Historic cottage gets category 2 listing

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Alexandra’s historic Vallance cottage was once on the brink of being bulldozed, but the mud-brick home has just been listed as a category 2 historic place by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

And suggestions for new uses for the cottage and grounds are still coming through, the latest being as a possible site for a national lilac collection.

Southland and Otago historian for Heritage New Zealand Heather Bauchop said the cottage was a good representative example of a nineteenth-century miner’s house.

“The cottage has aesthetic, archaeological, cultural, historical and social significance,” she said.

The Vallance Cottage working group met again this week to discuss future uses of the site.

Central Otago District Council parks team leader Ian Mann has come up with the latest idea, of housing a national lilac collection of about 54 heritage varieties amassed by Dunedin lilac gardener and researcher Beryl Lee.

“These are varieties that were brought into New Zealand in pioneer days,” Mr Mann said.

Mrs Lee had spent many years researching and collecting varieties from across the country, Mr Mann said.

“A home in Central Otago would be the perfect climate for the lilacs,” Mr Mann said.

The Rotary Club of Alexandra had suggested their “Trees for Babies” tree planting programme could also use the site for plantings.

Council properties and facilities officer Christina Martin said the concept could fit well with an idea that had been suggested earlier in the year for a community orchard.

“We had been looking at a community orchard concept that would bring people back to the area,” Ms Martin said.

If the “Trees for Babies” idea was used, the groups would ensure that heritage varieties of trees would be chosen in keeping with the existing trees, Ms Martin said.

The reserve housed historic trees alongside the cottage, including pears, apricots, plums, greengages and flowering cherries, Ms Martin said.

The group was also proposing the reserve land surrounding the cottage be named Vallance Cottage Park.