Set­tlers’ de­scen­dants at­tend cot­tage re­open­ing

Central Otago Mirror - - CENTRAL NEWS - By MARY-JO TO­HILL

Alexan­dra’s his­toric Val­lance Cot­tage re-opened on Sun­day with re­newed hope for its fu­ture preser­va­tion.

A dozen de­scen­dants and fam­ily of early set­tlers Wil­liam and Jean Val­lance who built the cot­tage about 1896, gath­ered from as far afield as Wellington, to mark its restora­tion and re­open­ing at a well at­tended com­mu­nity pic­nic at Alexan­dra.

A great-grand daugh­ter, Ju­dith Maxim of Wellington, said the fam­ily was con­cerned about the her­itage listed build­ing’s fu­ture and their great­est wish was that the cot­tage they gifted to the com­mu­nity in the mid 1990s, be self-sus­tain­ing, to pre­serve it as a pub­lic as­set.

The cousins had great mem­o­ries of hol­i­days at the cot­tage, where their great­grand­par­ents had raised eight chil­dren, ‘‘when we had the run of the place’’, Jo Lawrence of Nel­son said.

Closed since 2009 when the floor was found to be un­safe, a fundrais­ing ef­fort by the Val­lance fam­ily and the Vincent Com­mu­nity Board, which took over the man­age­ment from Cen­tral Sto­ries Mu­seum and Art Gallery, had led to a ma­jor re­vamp in re­cent years.

Com­mu­nity board chair­woman Clair Hig­gin­son hoped feed­back and dis­cus­sion from the open day would lead to the for­ma­tion of a group and a new gen­er­a­tion of custodians.

‘‘This house had a life and it has a life,’’ she said on Sun­day.

Con­tact tara.bates@codc.govt.nz or rachael.wel­fare@cen­tral sto­ries.com

Photo: MARY-JO TO­HILL

Val­lance fam­ily: Gath­ered for the his­toric Alexan­dra cot­tage’s re-open­ing on Sun­day were, front row left, Sally MacLeod of Lawrence, Dorothy Ni­col of Kurow, the Mali fam­ily of Nel­son – mumKeshera, daugh­ters Amira, 4, and Shayla, 8, dad Faris and sons Kee­don, 6, and Ea­mon, 2; back row, Jo Lawrence and son Sam, 17, of Nel­son, Ju­dith Maxim of Wellington, Vir­ginia Maskill and Anne Lee of Christchurch.

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