Schist breathing new life into old area

Heritage stonemasons (from left) Paul Myall and Murray Reeves, both of Clyde, and Keith Hinds, of...
Heritage stonemasons (from left) Paul Myall and Murray Reeves, both of Clyde, and Keith Hinds, of St Bathans, take a break from stonework they are doing on the 1870 ‘‘second school’’ building near the Cromwell Heritage Precinct. The building is one of three to be partially restored in a project to beautify areas along Lake Dunstan. Photo: Pam Jones
About 40 tonnes of schist has restored historic remains that will hopefully bring "new purpose" to an area near the Cromwell Heritage Precinct, those behind the project say.

And members of the public are being warned to "stay off" the walls of the buildings.

Old Cromwell Inc Society board member Helen Scoles said stone walls of three historic buildings were being restored in the Old Cromwell-led project, which began last year and should be finished by Christmas. The work is stage one of a project to beautify the Lake Dunstan foreshore. Stage two involves landscaping work along the lakefront.

The three restored buildings are the 1874 Athenaeum Hall,  the 1870 "second school" and the 1875 Renshaw’s House. None of them have been completely rebuilt, but walls of all three have been restored.

Mrs Scoles said the building remains — all on the outskirts of the Cromwell Heritage Precinct, along Lake Dunstan — had deteriorated over the years, largely due to members of the public removing stone from the sites, and people climbing on the building remains. Most of the 40 tonnes of schist needed for the restoration work was used to replace stone that had been taken, she said.

She said signage would now be erected warning people to "stay off" the Heritage New Zealand protected walls and not remove stone.

"And if people see other people climbing on them, tell them to get off. It’s a criminal offence to damage heritage buildings and people that are caught doing that could be prosecuted."

The areas are now being promoted as picnic areas, and a barbecue has been installed near one of the old buildings by the Cromwell Lions Club. The club has done the work as a legacy project for its 50th anniversary, to be celebrated next year.

pam.jones@odt.co.nz

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