Couple return to site of family home for red-zone wedding

Katie and James Huntley tied the knot at the site of Katie's family's demolished home in the red...
Katie and James Huntley tied the knot at the site of Katie's family's demolished home in the red zone. Photo: Susannah Blatchford
A large stretch of red-zoned land surrounds the area where Katie Huntley’s family home used to stand at 64A Fleete St in Dallington.

A fake Fleete St sign welcomed Katie Hantley's wedding guests to the site of her former family...
A fake Fleete St sign welcomed Katie Hantley's wedding guests to the site of her former family home in the Dallington red zone. Photo: Susannah Blatchford
It and every other house around it was demolished after being damaged during the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

But Huntley still loves the area. Fleete St was named after her great-grandfather Percy Fleete, who was the longest living resident there at the time it was named. Fleete and his wife Mary were one of four generations who lived in the street.

It is why Huntley chose the site, where she lived from when she was three until she was 19, to marry James Huntley in front of about 120 family and friends on January 23.

Said Huntley: “It was just a big family home. It was a place where anyone was welcome and people would rock up for barbecues. The area itself was just absolutely stunning. I was obsessed with the river.

64A Fleete St before it was demolished. Photo: Steve Tomsett
64A Fleete St before it was demolished. Photo: Steve Tomsett

“It’s just a really, really pretty environment. I love the trees, the big, long, dangly ones.

“It’s kind of nice it’s red zone now because you can really enjoy it from everywhere and miss the house all the same.

“Having it there on Fleete St, [it’s] just a place of so many memories and the significance of being named after nana’s dad. He was there when it was created, we were there when it ceased to have houses on it.”

During the wedding, Huntley’s mum Maree Tomsett explained the history of the site, and the surrounding area’s significance to her family, to the guests. Many of those listening had visited the house which once stood there in its heyday.

Percy Fleete (left) marries Mary Fleete in 1910. Photo: Supplied
Percy Fleete (left) marries Mary Fleete in 1910. Photo: Supplied

A replica Fleete St sign was on display for guests as they entered the wedding.

Huntley and her family watched their home be demolished after damage sustained in both earthquakes made it unrepairable. She said this was sad day which marked the end of the family’s 120-year history living in the area.

She said the wedding was a great way to honour the family’s “really strong ties to the area,” which remain today.

Photo: Susannah Blatchford
Photo: Susannah Blatchford

 - Matt Slaughter

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