55 Bledisloe Street, Kurow
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
25th September 1986
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes the land described as Pt Secs 5-6 Blk XIV Town of Kurow (CT OT352/4), Otago Land District, and the building known as Kurow Hotel thereon.
Pt Secs 5-6 Blk XIV Town of Kurow (CT OT352/4), Otago Land District
The Kurow Hotel has provided accommodation and refreshment for travellers and locals since the 1860s and in this building since 1905. Designed by Oamaru architect John Megget Forrester who reinstated the building after a fire, the building has historical, architectural and social significance.
This business has its origins in the 1860s when Christian Hille opened his accommodation house in what would become Kurow, and operated a punt over the Waitaki River. In the 1880s William Goddard took over the business. Yorkshire-born Goddard, whose family had followed gold to Victoria, Australia, came to New Zealand where he drove a coach service between Palmerston and Oamaru, and later between Duntroon and Omarama. He went into partnership with Delargy in the Bridge Hotel at Kurow, before building the Kurow Hotel. He built the hotel and stables adjoining the hotel as well. Goddard’s Kurow Hotel provided 24 rooms, a billiard room and extensive stabling. In 1892, the hotel was rebuilt following a fire. The new premises consisted of ‘a handsome two-storey building of Oamaru stone.’ It had twenty-eight rooms, eighteen of which were bedrooms, and five sitting rooms. The dining room seated thirty. There was also a billiard room and large stables. Goddard leased the premises and moved to Victoria, Australia.
In 1905 the hotel suffered a serious fire. Proprietor A.W. Simmonds discovered the fire upstairs, and despite his efforts and the help of volunteers, the building was badly damaged. The Oamaru Mail reported that ‘so thoroughly did the flames do their work that there is every probability that even the stone walls and chimneys left standing, being badly bulged, will have to be pulled down.’ Simmonds shifted into temporary premises in the adjoining hall. By February 1905, work was underway dismantling the hotel and it was expected to be ‘ready for the builders in a very short time.’ In February 1905, Oamaru architect John Megget Forrester advertised for tenders for the ‘RE-INSTATEMENT of the KUROW HOTEL.’
Photographs show that the hotel was enlarged again, probably before the 1940s. Since that time, Kurow Hotel has hand many changes in ownership and publicans, but has continued to provide a meeting place for locals and travellers in the Waitaki Valley. In 2016, it Kurow Hotel continues to offer accommodation, with sixteen rooms, a restaurant, bar and function room.
Forrester, John Meggett
John Meggett Forrester (1866-1965) grew up in Oamaru where his father Thomas Forrester (1838-1907) was practising as an architect. Having been educated at Oamaru Grammar School, he entered the architectural profession and in 1890 took over his father's practice, Forrester and Lemon, following the death of John Lemon (1828-90).
He was responsible for the Oamaru Opera House (1907), the Borough Council building, the World War I Memorial and the Waitaki Boys High School Hall of Memories, all in Oamaru. In 1919 he was joined in partnership by Ivan Steenson and he retired in 1931.
Forrester was prominent in Oamaru public life. He was a Justice of the Peace for many years, an Oamaru Borough Councillor (1913-33) and Mayor of Oamaru (1931-33). When he died in 1965 he left a bequest for the establishment of an Art Gallery in North Otago. The Forrester Gallery was opened in 1983 in the former Bank of New South Wales building.
Reinstatement after fire
20th December 2016
Report Written By
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
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.
A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Area Office of Heritage New Zealand.