Hidden St Albans jewel to be restored
Christchurch Earthquake 2011
An 1860s Christchurch heritage building used as a commune since the 1970s will be restored and opened to the public for the first time.
The commune, tucked behind homes in a St Albans street, is the birthplace of Greenpeace in New Zealand and the Christchurch Women's Refuge.
At its peak in the 1970s, about 20 people lived in the building, including former Labour Cabinet minister Marian Hobbs.
The 1862 brick house, known as Chippenham Lodge, was damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes.
The society that owns the building hopes to raise about $150,000 for repair and restoration.
The Canterbury Earthquake Heritage Buildings Fund is supporting the fundraising effort. The fund, which has granted about $10 million to help restore historic buildings, has put the lodge on its list of 11 Canterbury buildings that need to be saved.
Heartwood Community secretary Rebecca Bloomer said the restored building would be open to the public. "We would like to open a museum with a history of the building.
"Chippenham Lodge is kind of tucked away. People don't realise it is there. It is a hidden gem, so we want to raise our profile.
"The building has a beautiful ballroom with french doors that open on to the garden. People could book the space for conferences or meetings."
Bloomer said it was hoped to raise $150,000 to mark the building's 150th anniversary. Repair and restoration will cost about $700,000. "We need a bit of help because of an insurance shortfall."
"It has suffered quite significantly in some areas, but it fared very well because it was so well built."
The building has been attributed to neo-gothic architect Benjamin Mountfort, who designed the Christ Church Cathedral spire, the Arts Centre and the Canterbury Museum.
Fundraising manager Kristina Pickford said the building had an interesting history. "Chippenham is important not only for its architectural qualities but also for its rich social history.
"What is lovely is it is the Heartwood Community's intention to open part of the house to the public, giving people an opportunity to visit and learn about the unique property."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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