Christchurch's Provincial Hotel destroyed in seconds

20:31, Mar 11 2011
IT'S ALL OVER: Members of the Australian Task Force 3 watch as the historic Provincial Hotel at the intersection of Barbadoes and Cashel streets was demolished yesterday. The heritage building was undergoing an extensive renovation.
IT'S ALL OVER: Members of the Australian Task Force 3 watch as the historic Provincial Hotel at the intersection of Barbadoes and Cashel streets was demolished yesterday. The heritage building was undergoing an extensive renovation.

Stephen Cohen spent four years restoring the historic Provincial Hotel, but it took only seconds to reduce it to rubble.

Yesterday, two diggers pushed over the 108-year-old building that suffered terminal damage in last month's earthquake, collapsing the walls like a pack of cards.

Cohen bought the neglected building four years ago, spending a small fortune restoring and strengthening it, with the aim of reopening as a boutique hotel and bistro.

"We were trying to save it," he said.

After years of planning and consent delays, he said the work was only a few months from being finished when the quake struck. "If it had been finished I have no doubt that it would have held up."

The building on the corner of Cashel and Barbadoes streets was finally demolished by order of Civil Defence after repeated aftershocks rendered it dangerously unstable.

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Cohen said he would have liked more time to bring down the building so some parts could be saved.

"But I do realise the people in the city centre are doing their best."

Cohen said the site would not stay empty for long and he would probably build a one-storey office to replace the old hotel.

The Provincial Hotel was one of the first hotels in Christchurch, receiving its licence in May 1865. The original wooden hotel was demolished in favour of brick in 1902.

It was listed as a Group 2 heritage building in the district plan in 2003.

The Press