Historical Significance or Value
Stanley's Hotel Complex has outstanding historical significance as one of the few illustrations of the range of services offered by nineteenth century hotels in goldfields Otago. It is the only surviving hotel from that period in Macraes, and is the most substantial building in Macraes Flat. Hotels and their associated services, including stabling, were vital for travel in remote and harsh regions of New Zealand. Stanley's was renowned for the quality of its food and hospitality and remains a landmark hotel in the Otago region.
Stanley's Hotel Complex has historical significance as a hotel operating for over 120 years. The hotel has its roots in the history of the gold mining period in Otago which saw Macraes Flat boom, with the resultant services developing in the town.
Stanley's Hotel Complex has special architectural and technological significance. As a design it represents a typical wayside hotel in a rural area, as are the attendant service buildings which provide insight into the operation of the business. These outbuildings are rare survivors from the period. The quality of the stone work is notable, and is a good example of the stone mason's trade. The associated stone sheds, stables, walls and pig sty provide additional examples of stonemasonry.
Stanley's Hotel has social significance. As a community centre for meeting and socialising it has been important for over a hundred and twenty years. It is a reminder of the importance, beyond a mere tavern, of such a place.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:
Stanley's Hotel Complex is representative of the history of small gold mining towns, and the services that grew up to cater for the needs of the residents as well as the travelling public. As part of the wider network of travellers' accommodation throughout this isolated area, the Stanley's Hotel illustrates the importance of hotels, which are found at the wayside usually a day's horse ride apart. As a business that has operated for over 120 years the hotel is an important part of the history of the local community, and has played a central role as a gathering place for over a century.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:
Stanley's Hotel is associated with the gold mining period, a series of events in Otago's history which had, and continues to have at Macraes, a profound effect on the history and the landscape of the region.
(e) The community association with, or public esteem for, the place:
Stanley's Hotel is held in high esteem by the local community. This is evident throughout its history, with the community response to the Stanley family's sale of the hotel, and their support of the family. It is also evident in the community's purchase of the hotel in the mid-1970s, and their operation of the business for some twenty years.
(f) The potential of the place for public education:
The converted stone shed, one of the outbuildings of the hotel, is already being used as an interpretation centre and is open to the public. There is potential for public education.
(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:
The stone work of the hotel shows technical accomplishment and is a good example of nineteenth century stonemasonry. The range of techniques found in the hotel, walls and outbuildings provide insight into the technologies of the period.
(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places:
Stanley's Hotel Complex is a rare surviving collection of buildings associated with the provision of accommodation to travellers in isolated areas of nineteenth century Otago. In its completeness, with stable, cart shed, pig sty, stonewalling, shed, hotel and billiard room it is a special group.
Stanley's Hotel and its associated buildings are located in the small inland Otago gold mining town of Macraes Flat, 80 kilometres north of Dunedin. The single-storey stone hotel built by stonemason John Budge in 1882 for Thomas Stanley, and remained in the Stanley family until 1960. The hotel is a significant reminder of the importance of such wayside accommodations to isolated communities such as Macraes Flat. The hotel as well as its outbuildings (including a billiards room, stone shed, stables and pig sty) provide an illustration of the services associated with the hotel, and are good examples of the work of a nineteenth century stonemason.
Settlement at Macraes Flat began with the pastoralists in the 1850s, but gained real impetus with the gold rush to the area in the early 1860s. By 1865 the population of the area was around 300. By 1869 there were stores, bakers, drapers and a number of hotelkeepers. Local historian Helen Thompson indicates that Stanley's Hotel owner Thomas Stanley was trading as a butcher at this time, while James McNeish records that Stanley came to Dunedin in the 1860s and in 1869 brought his family to Macraes to take over an existing inn.
According to McNeish, the inn, built of wood and iron was presided over by Bob Donaldson, who was said to have kept a tight rein on goings on in his premises, with a gun kept under the counter. An R. Donaldson is mentioned by Thompson as proprietor of the Macraes Hotel in 1880. Stanley bought the inn in 1882 and faced with the decaying premises decided to rebuild, supplementing his income by running a wagon business. Stanley's Hotel was built for Tom Stanley in 1882 at the cost of 72 hogsheads of beer, and was one of the most substantial hotels in the region. The hotel provided a stopping place for "raw-boned teamsters, coach and horseback travellers, and the inevitable swagger" as well as the travelling public, and was known for its hospitality.
Stone was quarried from a nearby hill and Tom Stanley employed "Budge" (identified elsewhere as John Budge ) a stonemason from nearby Hyde, requesting a building that would last. James McNeish recorded that Budge was noted "for his craftsmanship, indolence and Falstaffian capacity for beer." The process took five years, with beer providing a regular distraction to the masonry work.
The hotel was one of a number in Macraes, but best known were Stanley's and Bill Griffin's United Kingdom. The rivalry between Stanley and Bill Griffin was legion, with bribery of swaggers, undercutting of prices, and vows to outlive each other. The vows resulted in the motto "While I Live I Crow" appearing on Stanley's Hotel wall, which is still there set into the wall above the main street entrance, next to an impression of the Boer leader Paul Kruger who was much admired by Tom Stanley. Stories associated with The Shiner, the swagger immortalized in John A. Lee's Shining with the Shiner, were also widely report to be centred at Stanley's Hotel.
Tom Stanley died in 1921 aged 76. After his death the hotel was run by his three daughters: Elizabeth, Ellen, and Emily, while brother George managed the nearby inn farm.
McNeish writing in 1957 provides an account of the hotel in the 1950s:" you will rest in a spoon-backed mahogany chair by an open fire. You will be served at a 14ft kauri table, scrubbed white, in a dining room where an old-fashioned bell pull hangs from the ceiling and an antique chiffonier takes up the entire width of one wall. You will walk through a hall tiled with marble and drift to sleep in a seductive featherbed." Stanley's Hotel was also a focus for drinkers from "dry" Oamaru. Until Oamaru voted to bring in pubs around 1960 (having gone no license in the first decade of the twentieth century) Stanley's was a main focus. "Every Tuesday the carrier would come straining up the Dunback Hill, bringing in supplies to the pub from Oamaru. Then throughout the week, the mail van and private cars would carry about half of it back down again."
By 1960s, with eldest daughter Elizabeth aged 83, the hotel was put on the market. When it failed to sell privately the National Mortgage and Agency Company were instructed to offer sale by public auction in August of that year. The sale bill noted a substantial freehold and leasehold estate, as well as the freehold hotel property. The auction described: "Hotel building of 15 rooms, built of stone, with stone sheds and necessary outbuildings; el. Light, telephone; 7 bedrooms, 1 dining room, lounge, kitchen, bar, storerooms, etc." It also noted that the hotel was "renowned for its solid stone walls, comfortable accommodation, excellent meals and colourful past." The sale was subject to the purchaser obtaining the Magistrate's approval to the holding of a Publican's License, and to the Licensing Authority approving the transfer of the License. A large stock of liquor, furniture and foodstuffs was also offered for sale, including 150 bottles of whisky, 200 bottles of gin, 1,000 bottles of brandy, 200 bottles of rum and 100 bottles of sherry and port. The Otago Daily Times reported an air of sadness at the passing of the Stanley era at Macraes Flat. More than 1,500 people walked through the hotel, with some comforting Elizabeth Stanley. The license was taken over by R.H. Taylor, owner of the other Macraes hotel. He planned to let his other license lapse and operate from Stanley's Hotel.
Taylor put the hotel on the market in 1976. The property consisted of just over 3 acres, with the hotel "with one double and four single rooms as guest accommodation, bar with pool table, publican's living quarters, shop, petrol pump and immediately associated outbuildings. Also in the title but across the road is a dry stone walled paddock containing stone and galvanized iron sheds and stone stables."
The local community rallied behind the hotel, floating a private company "in which almost every family in the district" had an interest (as well as the New Zealand Historic Places Trust), and bought the hotel. Locals viewed it as a community asset: "...we remain a community because we have one thing in common, on place where we can get together and talk, joke and thrash out our differences - the pub." It was a meeting place where drinkers, non-drinkers, shearers, and station owners could get together and work out issues. It was the "lynchpin for the farming community spread from Macraes across to Moonlight and the Nenthorn Valley." The company wished to preserve the hotel as an historic building and a local amenity.
The change of ownership was popular, with one visitor reporting that on the first night "200 people crammed into a space licensed to accommodate no more than 45...They came from all over - Dunback, Middlemarch, Palmerston, Ranfurly. A rousing change of ownership. The beer pump couldn't cope and the serried rows of bottled beer on the shelves disappeared at a rate that must have done the publican's and the brewer's purse strings a power of good." At the same time there was a plea for old fixtures, such as the bar, to be returned to the hotel. The local pub was recognized as a traditional social centre as well as a daily amenity, with prospects for tourism, quite apart from the part it played in recalling pioneer times. Locals tracked down many of the original items auctioned when the pub was sold after the Stanley family ended its association with the pub.
By the early 1980s the majority of business was from workers and trades people who used the hotel as a base for their Monday to Friday employment around Macraes Flat.
Renovations were completed in the early 1990s, with funding from a mining company grant. The lean-to wash house was demolished to make way for part of the manager's flat (a one room deep lean-to section). A new dining room was constructed. The alterations left the street view of the building unchanged, except for the removal of a lean-to associated with the [former?] petrol station function of the building. The former billiard room adjoining the hotel was to be converted to a shop, while a stone building (a former laundry and store room) it was hoped might be converted to a tea room, if money allowed. The bar was renovated and a partition wall between it and the pool room was to be removed.
In the mid 1990s it was agreed that the hotel be sold. For two years the hotel was owned by an Auckland couple, and then in 1997 it was transferred to the Macraes Mining Company Limited. In 2006 Stanley's Hotel continues to trade as a hotel and remains in mining company ownership. The stables and outbuildings are now home to a centre interpreting the history of the area.
Macraes Flat is a small isolated inland town located 80 kilometres north of Dunedin. The town has a strong link with both gold mining and pastoralism in this area of Otago. In 2006 the dominant local industry is large scale gold mining.
Stanley's Hotel is located at the crossroad in the centre of the settlement (where Macraes Road, Hyde Street and Red Bank Road converge). The hotel is on the north-west quadrant. Adjacent to the hotel, on the western side is the former billiard room, with a stone shed to the rear.
Across Macraes Road, directly opposite the hotel, are its former stables and outbuildings. In 2006 this area is grassed, with one building used as an interpretation centre, with picnic tables and interpretative signs nearby.
Stanley's Hotel (See floor plan, Appendix 4.)
The hotel is a single storey stone building located on a corner site. The plan is u-shaped. The roof is hipped.
The hotel's main entrance fronts Macraes Road. There are two doors leading to the lounge and public bars on this south eastern façade. Next to each door is a small relief sculpture: a rooster in relief accompanied by the "Stanley's Motto: While I live I'll Crow"; and the head of the Boer leader Paul Kruger (See photographs Appendix 3).
The south west part of the building houses the service areas, including the kitchen. A manager's flat has been added to the north west wing. The hotel's public accommodation (four rooms) is in the north east wing.
The former Billiard Room and Stone Shed (now Information Centre, See photographs Appendix 3.)
The Billiards Room is a small rectangular plan weatherboard building with a hipped roof to the street, and a gabled roof to the rear. The main south east elevation fronts Macraes Road. It has a central door flanked by two double hung sash windows. Attached to the rear of the building is a small stone shed, reportedly used as a laundry in earlier times. This is a single gable structure with two doors and a window on the south west elevation.
The Stone Outbuildings and Walls(see Photographs, Appendix 3)
Immediately across Macraes Road are the outbuildings associated with Stanley's Hotel: They are a large stone shed (now used as an interpretation centre), stone stables, a stone pig sty and pen, and stone walls enclosing the space.
The interpretation centre is a single gable stone structure. The main elevation is to Macraes Road. This has two large openings with modern window and door fittings. The interior is open and houses display material.
The former stable is also a single gable stone building. It has three sets of stable doors on the south east elevation, and small windows at the gable ends.
The pig sty is a low single gable stone structure with a small wooden door on the north east elevation, and a pen to the north west constructed of schist slabs placed on end.
A dry stone wall surrounds the outbuilding complex. The wall has is in parts topped with vertical stacked stone.
Hotels and the services they provided were essential to the nineteenth century traveller, particularly in isolated areas of New Zealand. With the gold rushes of the 1860s hotels and accommodation houses were among the first services established. Hotels typically offered a range of services including accommodation, meals, stabling and a coach stop point. The buildings associated with hotels therefore included stables, fenced areas for stock and the like. Few hotels left in Otago illustrate these services, with many, like the Royal Hotel in Naseby lost their stables through demolition. Stanley's Hotel Complex with its stables, cart shed, pig sty, stone walling and billiard rooms provide an outstanding record of a nineteenth century gold mining town hotel, in a hotel that has been in operation for over 120 years.
None of the 22 Category I hotels on the NZHPT Register relate to goldfields Otago, making Stanley's Hotel a unique survivor of its period; most represent the provision of accommodation services in larger towns rather than isolated communities. Other hotels in goldfields Otago, such as the former Dunstan and Commercial Hotels in Clyde (Register Numbers 2368 and 2369) while significant buildings, do not provide an illustration of the range of services operated by such wayside inns. Other major goldmining towns such as Lawrence have no hotels surviving from that period. In other goldmining towns such as Queenstown, Cromwell and Alexandra commercial development has erased much of the infrastructure associated with that early period.
Stanley's Hotel Complex in its illustration of a nineteenth century gold mining hotel and its associated services is therefore outstandingly significant.
Stanley's Hotel, Billiard Rooms and attached stone shed, Stables, Wagon Shed, Stone walls, Pig Sty.
Original bar removed.
Addition of Manager's Flat and alteration to incorporate new dining room.
Conversion of former Wagon Shed to Interpretation Centre.
Stone with timber joinery and corrugated iron roof.
13th June 2006
Report Written By
24 September 1960
George Griffiths, In the Land of Dwindle River: A Waihemo Journal, Otago Heritage Books, Dunedin, 1982
John Hagen (director). The great Kiwi pub [videorecording] / producer, David Harry Baldock ; director, - [Auckland? N.Z.] : Ninox Films : Television New Zealand : Roadshow Entertainment [distributor], c1999. - 1 videocassette (ca. 45 min.) : sd., col. 1/2 in. 'Television New Zealand 2001 and Ninox 175 2001'
High Country Herald
High Country Herald
14 March 1930
James McNeish, Tavern in the Town, A.H. and A.W. Reed, Wellington, 1984 [first published 1957]
New Zealand Woman's Weekly
New Zealand Woman's Weekly
April 4, 1977
Otago Daily Times
Otago Daily Times
2 July 1960, 23 July 1960, 3 October 1960,15 July 1976, 1 March, 1990
Helen Thompson, East of the Rock and Pillar: A History of the Strath Taieri and Macraes District, Otago Centennial Historical Publications, Dunedin, 1949
12 October 1960
A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Southern Region 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.