A former popular Napier bar with a ghostly past could become the headquarters of the Anglican Church in Hawke's Bay.
The Brazen Head Irish Ale and Coffee House is now just a shell of its former self on the ground floor of the Barry Bros building, which is owned the Waiapu Board of Diocesan Trustees, on a fringe-CBD Hastings St site neighbouring St John Cathedral.
The trust's March 2019 annual report said the trust had decided to retain ownership of the site with a view to shifting its administration from Bower St to be closer to the cathedral.
Diocesan registrar and trust secretary Colleen Kaye said this week the trustees are exploring whether the building could be developed to house the Diocesan head office.
""We are working through what may be the strengthening requirements of the building before any firm decisions are made," she said. "It's quite a charming old building, obviously with lots of stories of its own to tell, including those of the past few years when it was the Brazen Head pub."
"We still have a bit of a process to work through before a final decision will be made, but it certainly would have good synergy for us as an organisation to be beside our cathedral," she said.
The landmark was built in 1936, replacing the earthquake-ravaged "town office" transport and carrying company Barry Bros, established in the horse-drawn era of 1887. The company also had operations in Ahuriri and on a block from Hastings St towards Munroe St, on what is now Swan St.
The office was established in 1920, but the family had some history in providing liquid refreshment in pioneer Daniel Barry's 1866 notice that he "wishes to intimate to the inhabitants of Napier that he will serve them with water at a lower price than anybody in town".
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
The ground floor was for many years retail space, including Bloms Antiques and Treachures Furniture.
First licensed as a bar in 2000, reputedly with much of its bar and fittings shipped from Dublin, it became a feature of the Hastings St bar quarter that had developed during the 1990s. At one stage at least seven bars fronted Hastings St between Tennyson and Browning Sts. It included a gaming room at the rear.
Having at least five proprietors over the years, it closed as a restaurant and bar in 2018.
In 2009, in response to staff and customer stories of haunted goings-on, including a ghostly apparition, the mysterious slamming of a door early in the morning, unexplainable cold draughts (in the air, as opposed to those coming from the taps), and unexplained alarm activations, investigative group Phoenix Paranormal Research staked out the building and said the crew recorded electromagnetic readings, which could help explain the mystery.
Legend was that there was a "friendly spirit" of a man killed in the 1931 Hawke's Bay Earthquake.