Grand old building marks a century

King Edward Court manager Roberta Coutts outside the historic building which turns 100 today....
King Edward Court manager Roberta Coutts outside the historic building which turns 100 today. Photo by Gregor Richardson.

Even though it was once New Zealand's largest school, there will be little pomp and circumstance when the King Edward Technical College building turns 100 today.

Former pupils will have to suffice with reminiscing about days in the building's large corridors, as they wait for the official birthday celebration, which will be held during Dunedin's Heritage Festival in late April.

The foundation stone was laid on March 20, 1913, and by 1955 the school had grown into the largest in the country, with about 2500 pupils.

But by 1966, the tertiary arm of the college renamed itself Otago Polytechnic and moved out of the building, and in 1974 the secondary school followed suit and became Logan Park High School.

Since then, the King Edward Technical College buildings, now known as King Edward Court, have been privately owned and, until recently, they had not seen the activity of their heyday.

Building manager Roberta Coutts said the building was now owned by Americans Ray and Gwynn Joseph, of Texas.

''When they bought it, it was pretty derelict.

''Ray loved the building. He cleaned it up, room by room, and filled it up, room by room.

''Now, it's lovely jubbly full. There's life about the place again.''

Ms Coutts said all 75 rooms in the building were now occupied - even the coal bunker had been rented for storage space.

''I don't know anyone else who can rent out a coal bunker.''

As well as a large number of classrooms which had now been turned into offices, dance and art studios, ensemble practice rooms and storage units, the building has a disused saltwater swimming pool and a large walk-in safe.

''It's a cool old building,'' Ms Coutts said.

Considering the building was now 100 years old, Ms Coutts said it was still in very good condition.

''They built them to last in those days.''

It is about to undergo a seismic assessment to make sure it can withstand an earthquake.

She said there was also a plan to refurbish the exterior so the building would last another 50 years.

The owners had hoped to have it completed before now, but they had to return to the United States for family reasons.

''The work is still scheduled, but there is no timeline for when that will happen,'' she said.

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