by Mike Isle
One of Christchurch’s most historic homesteads has been reopened despite earthquake and arson damage.
The building was badly damaged in an arson attack in June 2016, just as the Christchurch City Council was preparing to fix the damage the building had suffered in the earthquakes.
The fire ripped through the roof and top storey of the heritage listed building and caused so much damage that part of the upstairs had to be deconstructed.
However, a council-led repair and restoration project, which began in February 2018, has returned the historic homestead to its former glory and brought the building up to 67 per cent of the New Building Standard.
Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the Risingholme Community Centre had played an important role in the local community for decades.
“It is a building that has seen a lot of history, and the careful restoration work that’s been carried out here means it will continue to stand strong and be a vital part of its community well into the future,” Dalziel said.
The council’s social, community development and housing committee chair Phil Clearwater said the “respectful restoration” means that wherever possible, the original character features of the homestead have been retained.
“For example, the beautiful marble fireplaces have been rebuilt using salvaged pieces, the charring on the staircase and fireplace bannisters and fireplace mantle have been kept and a ‘truth window’ provides a viewing panel that reveals the original lathe and plaster inside the walls.”
The nearby Risingholme Hall, which dates back to the 1940s, has also been refurbished and strengthened.
Ildica Boyd, Risingholme Community Centre Committee president, said the council’s commitment to what Risingholme represents has been “heart warming”.
“It is wonderful to be able to say ‘Risingholme’ is moving back home, with all the buildings open and improved,” she said.