One of Whanganui's few wooden heritage buildings has been awarded $100,000 of government funding for preservation.
The Oddfellows Hall building on the corner of Ridgway St and Drews Ave is owned by Whanganui's Jools Feast and Ian Parker, and forms part of an important heritage streetscape. That's been recognised with a grant through the Heritage Equip fund to upgrade the two-storeyed timber and weatherboard building, constructed in 1895 for the Oddfellows' Whanganui Order.
"It's really good news about the Heritage Equip fund but things are bit up in the air at the moment," Feast said.
Initial plans for the building upgrade have been drawn up but with the Covid-19 pandemic Feast and Parker are now unsure when their final plans will be able to be completed and work started.
"We have the funding towards the seismic strengthening," Feast said.
"The next step is to get the final plans drawn up and the fire plan is a big - and expensive - part of that. The virus has got in the way of it but if everything comes right in a few months we would start strengthening work later this year.
"It's one of Whanganui's few wooden buildings. It's short on lateral strengthening but it doesn't have the same issues as masonry buildings.
"It's a very cute building."
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The strengthening involves the insertion of a ground floor timber portal frame, plus bracing to the walls and roof. When completed, the building will have a seismic strength of 67 per cent NBS (new building standard).
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Feast and Parker have resource consent for a change of use if required, with the option of apartments or commercial use with anything from one to four leases.
The building was designed by HT Johns and built by Olliver & Simpson. It forms the eastern bookend of Ridgway St's block of heritage buildings and contributes to an important heritage streetscape. The building is a heritage item in the Whanganui District Plan.
Whanganui District Council heritage adviser Scott Flutey said it was pleasing the owners had taken the opportunity to apply for funding and received it.
"It's a great building - it's one of the oldest buildings on that street," Flutey said.
"It's one of lots of projects that are happening right now. We've had quite a long time where not much has been happening in the heritage space in Whanganui so it's awesome."
Flutey said he was able to help heritage building owners who wanted a steer on what they could do and what funding was available.
"Every building is different - where it is can change the funding it's eligible for," he said.
The building was built for the Manchester Unity Lodge and was used as a meeting venue for the Lodge. It was also used as a theatre, especially before the Royal Wanganui Opera House was built. There was once a billiard room there and it has housed various businesses over the years. The Lodge moved out of the building in the early 1990s.