Villa to be demolished

The historic villa will be demolished today.
Photos Susan Sandys

The Ashburton District Council will today demolish what was once “a beautiful old house”.

The 100-plus year old villa at 131 Havelock Street is on the council’s current administration site, behind the main council office building.

A temporary building is to be constructed in its place, to house the council’s Civil Defence headquarters, and provide temporary council chambers when building begins on the new administration block in Baring Square East.

Ashburton grandmother Jean Stuart said her late mother lived there in the 1980s, renting one of three flats within the building.

Stuart and her children had loved visiting her there and admiring the home’s old features such as antique fire places.

“It was a beautiful old house, it’s quite sad really, but things have to progress,” Stuart said.

Fellow Ashburton resident Christine Richards also had fond memories.

She worked there in the 1990s with the Ashburton Enterprise Agency, alongside fellow council-initiated organisations Ashburton Safer Community Council and Ashburton District Tourism.

“It was a bit like working from your home really,” she said.

“It could be cold in the winter time with the high ceilings.”

Business services manager Paul Brake said the villa had reached the end of its useful life. It leaked, the wind blew through it, and it was full of borer.

Both the property and finance departments had been based there up until a couple of years ago, and it had been unoccupied since.

Brake was among staff there alongside facilities managing officer Dave Hampton, and they remember part of the ceiling coming away.

“You get in the ceiling and you don’t need a light because there’s that much daylight coming through,” Hampton said.

Features such as antique fireplaces, architraves and doors were being saved and sold.

The villa will be demolished between 5.30pm and 9pm, and rubble removed Thursday and Friday.

The specifications of the new temporary building will be reported to the council’s Finance and Business Support Committee on November 30.

– By Susan Sandys

Facilities management officer Dave Hampton checks out of his former Havelock Street office for the last time.