House proud

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Restoration of a house built by former prime minister Helen Clark’s great-great grandfather is a step closer thanks to a $233,747 grant from the Central Lakes Trust.
Old Cromwell Incorporated chairwoman Helen Scoles said the funds would enable earthquake strengthening and renovation of the house to continue.
The house was built by John Marsh between 1868 and 1875 and was one of the few original settler properties remaining in the region.
Over the years the interior of the house had been extensively altered, functioning as doctor’s offices and as a nursing home.
The large garden and proximity to the Old Cromwell Precinct made it an ideal site for the community, and the society aimed to eventually be able to open the building for meeting spaces and functions.
The house was being restored to how it would have looked in the 1870s, Mrs Scoles said.
Plans were for a period room with furnishing and decorations of the time.
Other rooms when completed would provide space for community groups and offices for the society as well as being an attractive site for functions.
About $400,000 to $500,000 was needed to complete the renovations, and the society had several fundraising plans.
A 2020 calendar featuring photos of the Old Cromwell Precinct was available at the Grain & Seed Cafe, email oldcromwell@xtra.co.nz or ph 021 208-9702.
The society was extremely appreciative of the continued support of Central Lakes Trust.
“We believe it is important to retain and restore these old buildings so that future generations can appreciate what life was like in the early days of small towns like Cromwell,” Mrs Scoles said.
Central Lakes Trust chief executive, Susan Finlay said the trust had previously assisted the Cromwell Community Board with the purchase of the house back in 2012, granting $376,250 towards its purchase.
“Old Cromwell Incorporated have committed substantial time and resource to restoring the surrounding grounds and car park of McNulty House, as well as rezoning it from residential to heritage, to get to the point they are ready to preserve the building.”
Preserving the cultural and environmental heritage for future generations was a key priority area of the trust, she said.