Cottage rebuilt from ground up

Hororata's historic cob cottage, Cotons' Cottage, is open to the public again. Photo by David Hill
Hororata's historic cob cottage, Cotons' Cottage, is open to the public again. Photo by David Hill

A slice of Canterbury heritage has been restored with the reopening of Hororata's Cotons' Cottage last month.

Cotons' Cottage, one of the region's oldest historic buildings, was officially reopened to the public on Saturday, March 15, after being closed due to extensive damage from the September 2010, 7.1 magnitude earthquake.

''The reopening is a culmination of community hard work and love for a building that represents a rare remaining link to Canterbury's early history,'' New Zealand Historic Places Trust heritage destinations southern manager Paul McGahan said.

Following engineering advice, the cottage was deconstructed to its foundations, with as much heritage fabric as possible retained for reuse.

Earth restoration and building practitioner Blue Forsyth, of Geraldine, led the restoration, ''working tirelessly in some adverse conditions'', Mr McGahan said.

He said it was not the first time the cottage had been rebuilt. Neglected for many years, it was rebuilt in 1977 using clay from the original cottage and the original fire surround, mantelpiece, window-frames and door surround.

Over the years the Hororata community, particularly the Hororata Historical Society, had played a key role in the survival of the cottage, Mr McGahan said.

Bentley and Sarah Jane Coton bought 20ha of land in 1864 and built the cottage with a cob mixture of local clay and tussock. It had ''stood for 150 years as a prime example of an early settler's farmhouse'', Mr McGahan said.

He said the cottage had played an important part in the Hororata community over the years, including being used for religious services prior to the district's first Anglican church being built in 1875.

The cottage and surrounding land were gifted to the Crown in 1974 by its owners for a historic reserve.

''The fact that Hororata got so badly hit in that first earthquake, it's a significant contribution back to the community. Despite being a small building, it's a huge part of the heritage fabric of the district.

''The reopening is also an important symbol of the ongoing recovery part of Canterbury following the earthquakes.''

- by David Hill