Historical Significance or Value
Simmond's Boarding House has historical significance as a place which provided accommodation for visitors to Alexandra for just over ninety years. Its reported construction from stone left over from the Alexandra Bridge adds to its historical importance, and widens its connections to the town of Alexandra. Builder James Simmonds, was a local Alexandra identity who served several terms as mayor and was involved in other community organisations such as the Dunstan Hospital Committee and the Central Otago Hospital Board. Simmonds also constructed a number of Alexandra and Clyde's other buildings.
ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OR VALUE:
Simmond's Boarding House (Former) has architectural significance. The Boarding House is representative of the kind of building typical of a boarding house or hotel in nineteenth century Otago. Along with others such as Dunstan House in nearby Clyde, its design and materials provide insight into commercial buildings of this type. It is a significant building built in the vernacular style, with its use of local stone typical of Central Otago.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:
The former Simmond's Boarding House provides knowledge of New Zealand's history. It was built to serve as a boarding house, an important function in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when travel into Central Otago was a slow and arduous process, and overnight accommodation along the way was a necessity.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:
The Boarding House is associated with James Simmond. Simmond was a significant figure in Alexandra's history in the nineteenth century. Simmond was a contractor for a number of significant buildings or structures in the town, including the Alexandra Bridge, and a prominent player in gold mining in the wider Dunstan region, and a local body politician.
(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:
The former Boarding House forms an important part of the wider historical and cultural landscape Alexandra. As noted above, it is constructed out of local schist left over from the construction of the 1882 Alexandra Bridge, the piers of which remain standing in the river close to the former hotel building. Schist itself is the ubiquitous vernacular building material of Central Otago, used in many of the region's historical buildings. The vernacular architectural style of the former hotel is also reflected in other historic hotel buildings of the area, such as the Dunstan Hotel and Dunstan House, both located in nearby Clyde.
SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANCE OR VALUES:
This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, k.
It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place
Land title information for the section on which the Simmond's Boarding House stands begins with a Crown Grant to William Henry Hastedt in August 1875. When Hastedt died in 1880, Mary Gands inherited the land. Two years later, in 1882, Mary Gands sold the property to James Simmonds.
James Simmonds (also spelt as Simmons in some sources) was a prominent Dunstan citizen. He was born in Hobart in 1841 and trained as a cabinetmaker, before moving to the Australian gold fields. At the age of 21 he came to Invercargill, where he worked as a builder. Following this he mined at Wetherstons and Waitahuna before moving to the Dunstan area in 1866. At Alexandra he worked on the construction of the bridge across the Clutha River, opened in 1882. Simmonds also worked on, amongst other buildings, the Alexandra post office, police camp, and other government buildings at Clyde. Simmonds had considerable mining interests. He was one of the owners of the Last Chance Elevator Company that worked at Bald Hill Flat, the first elevator company in the district. He was an owner of the Vincent Goldmining Company of Gorge Creek, and the Shamrock Elevator Company of St. Bathans, and was involved in a number of community organisations. He was a member of the Alexandra Borough Council almost continuously for 23 years and was Mayor of Alexandra from 1880 to 1882, 1892 to 1894 and 1896 to 1897.
Simmond's Boarding House, with an adjacent General Store, was built in 1882, the same year the Alexandra Bridge was opened, out of stone left over from the bridge's construction. The general store traded from a single-storey timber building adjoining the Boarding House. Its prominent location next to the main road is a typical location of accommodation houses, which were important facilities for the travelling public, given the long distances and the extreme conditions of Central Otago.
James Simmonds leased the property he had built 'Samuel Simmonds the elder and Samuel Simmonds the younger term 11 years from 1st April 1893'. No doubt both Samuel Simmonds were related to James but the relationship is not specified. Research has not established what the business was called in these early years. The lease did not run its specified term as seven years later, in 1900, James Simmonds sold to his brother in law, James Hesson.
According to Stone's Directory, Hesson and sons are listed in 1903 as proprietors of the Temperance Hotel and Boarding House. They are also recorded as wholesale and retail merchants, with 'every description of farm produce' on sale, as well as 'A Large Stock of General groceries, Glassware, Crockery, Ironmongery, Fancy Goods, Tobacco, Cigars, Cigarettes, Pipes, Etc'. Advertised in Stone's Directory and illustrated with a photograph, the building can be seen with its ornate balustraded parapet running along both the single and two storied sections. The wooden store can also be seen to the left of the hotel building.
James Hesson then leased the store to his son William Hesson in 1904, while it seems that William's brother ran the boarding house operation with the financial backing from the wider family. There was an economic downturn in Alexandra in the early years of the twentieth century, with the slow decline in dredging returns, although it was hoped that the imminent arrival of the railway to Alexandra would provide a boost. William Hesson ran into financial trouble almost immediately, and by August 1905 had been declared bankrupt (his father having called in the bailiff). While they had managed to turn a profit for the first year, the returns were not viable, and his brother left the business.
William Hesson survived the crisis, and in 1915 purchased the property from James Hesson's estate, Ellen Hesson and James Simmonds being the beneficiaries of the estate.
William Hesson continued to own the business from 1915 until 1950. During the years of William Hesson's ownership, the name evidently changed to Alexandra Private Hotel and Alexandra Provision Store. Stone's Directory lists William, along with Mrs. K.W. Hesson, who was a confectioner and sold fancy goods. In 1950, William Hesson sold to R.E. Nauman Ltd. A year later, Nauman sold to Arthur and Agnes Legerwood , having converted the boarding house into motel accommodation and filled in the hotel's cellar beneath the building.
The Legerwoods converted the building back to a boarding house/guesthouse, naming it the Central Lodge Hotel. At about this time, c. 1950-1951, the old timber store was gutted by fire and replaced with a concrete building, but part of the original building remained in place behind the new concrete frontage.
In 1965 the business was sold again, with the new owners continuing the use as a guesthouse and the operation of the general store alongside. At the same time as the guesthouse accommodation continued, the room on the corner of the building, opening from the main doorway, was used as a shop for a number of years.
In 1972, the property was sold and converted for use as law offices.
In 2004 part of the building was again struck by fire, when arsonists attacked the timber section of the old general store in Limerick Street, destroying it. In 2008 Simmond's former Boarding House continues to be used as law offices.
The former Simmond's Boarding House stands on the main arterial road into Alexandra, within the main commercial area at the eastern edge of the town. It fronts Limerick Street, and what was Ennis Street but is now car parking. Ennis Street marks the location of the former road alignment to the original Alexandra Bridge. This part of Alexandra is the historic centre of the town, positioned as it is close to the Clutha River and the main route from Dunedin. In recent years it has been subject to commercial redevelopment, with its modern neighbours including The Warehouse.
The building is on a prominent corner section and it is built to the street corner. The building footprint covers the majority of the section. The main elevation to Limerick Street is two-storeys, and is two rooms deep. The façade to what was Ennis Street stands flush with the footpath.
The former Boarding House is built of schist, with timber window joinery. The main building of the former hotel is two storied, with a central doorway opening diagonally onto the corner, as well as doorways onto the Limerick Street side of the building and onto the car park.
The upper floor has seven eight-light paired windows, one of these in the diagonal corner of the building above the main doorway, and multi-paned casement windows on the ground floor. A single-storied section of the building continues on the south side along the former Ennis Street frontage, featuring five eight-paned twin casement windows and three timber doors. The building has a plain parapet on the first and second storeys; historic photographs show that this was originally balustraded, but that it has since been removed. A heavy string course delineates the first and second storeys of the building.
The interior of the building was not recorded in the preparation of this report.
Temperance Hotel and Boarding House built
Hotel converted to motel accommodation, and cellar beneath building filled in
Demolished - Fire
Timber store building gutted by fire, replaced with concrete building
Building converted for use as law offices
Stone with timber joinery and a corrugated iron roof.
6th May 2008
Report Written By
Angela Middleton/Heather Bauchop
Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1905
Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol. 4 Otago and Southland, Cyclopedia Company, Christchurch, 1905
R. Gilkison, Early Days in Central Otago Whitcoulls, Christchurch, 1978
Moore, 1953 (reprint 1978)
C. Moore, The Dunstan, Whitcombe & Tombs, Dunedin, (First published 1953, Capper Press reprint 1978)
New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)
New Zealand Historic Places Trust
NZHPT file 12011-167, Central Otago-Alexandra (former) Central Lodge Hotel 18 Limerick St
B. Veitch, Clyde on the Dunstan, John McIndoe, Dunedin, 1976
A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Area Office
Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.