Two awards for building restoration

North Otago Club president Peter Garvan (left) and architect Ian Butcher show the original sketch...
North Otago Club president Peter Garvan (left) and architect Ian Butcher show the original sketch of the renovations outside the North Otago Club building on Thursday. Photo by Ben Guild.
It began with a chat over a beer in 2004. Seven years of hard work and painstaking attention to detail later, the restoration of the North Otago Club has won two architectural awards.

The building formerly known as the AMP Society Building, on the corner of Itchen and Tees Sts, and architect Ian Butcher, won both heritage and colour awards at the southern regional New Zealand Architecture Awards in Invercargill on November 18.

The Otago Daily Times sat down with club president Peter Garvan and Mr Butcher at the North Otago Club on Thursday at the table where it all began.

The building, and surrounds, have been transformed since the pair's first meeting. The veranda on Tees St, dating back to 1877, had been restored, and another on Itchen St, dating between 1888-91, had been reinstated.

A wooden power pole, believed to have stood on the corner for about 100 years, has gone, replaced by underground wires.

The corner door, taken out by Mr Garvan's grandfather, George Stringer, who owned the building from 1958-1975, has also been reinstated.

That was "one of the most fantastic things we have done", Mr Garvan said.

Restoring the building to its former glory of 1889 had not come cheap. The two verandas and corner door, together with the new shop front and compliance costs inside the building, meant the total bill was well over $200,000.

It was seen as money well spent, Mr Garvan said.

"It's hoped that not only will the building retain pride of place at this end of Thames St, but also be a gateway to the Victorian precinct." Mr Butcher, too, was thrilled with the result.

"It's fantastic, particularly in terms of what it does for the streetscape."

Pivotal to the result was the right paint. Layers of paint were scratched back to find the building's original colours. Photographs from the North Otago Museum were also used to determine how it once looked.

"One of the reasons the building is painted three different colours is because it has three distinct parts. When you look at those black and white photos you can see there was a wide colour pallet. The Victorians actually had an exuberant use of colour; we added a 21st century twist to it. The Victorian colours tended to be a bit grey and receding whereas I wanted them to be bright and clear."

The judges agreed, with the citation for the Resene Colour Award stating "great care has been taken to select colours that accent the Victorian era materials and details and which fit well within the context of the Victorian precinct".

The building, which has had a category one New Zealand Historic Places Trust classification since 1987, and is a category A building in the Waitaki district plan, is now likely to be structural strengthened.



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