Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Changes in the Main

Main Street has been undergoing changes. In the past few months, we've had sidewalks repaved. And now the water pipes are being dug up and replaced.
Some of the lancewoods (Horoeka or Pseudopanax crassifolius) that were once part of the Main Street beautification project of 2004 have now been uprooted and replanted. This was done for safety reasons as pedestrians and drivers felt they were causing visibility problems. We will also be losing a parking space near the police station to help make that part of the street safer to navigate around the 'islands'.

The lancewoods are now behind the Otautau log sign. This log is a commemoration to Otautau's logging history. The lancewoods look right at home there with the gorgeous red tussocks.

The Courthouse has some finishing touches too - beautiful red doors, and the words Court House painted in red. Fabulous. Previously, the letters were white and not as easy to see.

Other changes that have happened are that Carleton's Pharmacy has moved from its long-established location to share premises with Otautau Joinery gift shop on Main Street. The two businesses really complement each other as you can shop for something nice for the home as well as picking up medicines.

And of course, the Otautau Hotel has been undergoing loads of renovations inside and outside - a new bar and a new smoking area to name just a few.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Kids Making a Difference

The following post was kindly sent in by a local resident on the St Andrews Scout Group garage sale fundraiser for Christchurch held last month.
This is Hannah, Shelby and Tyren Cormack on the day of the Christchurch earthquake. Tyren wanted to help Christchurch so much following the earthquake that he was willing to sell his Xbox which he did. So he came up with the plan of a garage sale. We set to it and planned this to raise money for Christchurch. It was held on Saturday, 12 March. We made $1260.30 from our garage sale and sausages sizzle. Tyren was over the moon that we made it past $1000.00 which was his goal.

We could not have done it without the support of Otautau, and we had great helpers to pull the day off. They were: Jane Campbell, Julie Quinn, Susan Mathieson helping inside with sales; Kelvin Cormack on the BBQ; all the scouts and cubs that helped - they are true scouts, that's for sure. It made me very, very proud to be a leader to these scouts. They really showed me that people come together when we need to.
The above photo is Tyren with some of the goods that were donated. We ended up with so much stuff. It was unreal how people wanted to help us.
Thanks, Kelly, for sending this in.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Another Building Turns 100

In 1911, a fresh, new building was erected on the corner of Chester and Main Streets across from the current medical centre which was then the Wallace County Offices. It was the new Smith and Laing building - ironmongers, and sellers of furniture, hardware and everything else under the sun. Smith and Laing began their first business in Esk Street, Invercargill, in 1900 and subsequently had premises in Otautau and Winton. Their slogan was 'the store that serves you best'.
(Source: 8 Aug 1911, Otautau Standard. Retrieved from Papers Past website)

By 1924, the building was bought by Jack Robbie and Bill Smith and became the new location for the Wallace Motor and Tourist Company. They sold Buicks, Morris and commercial vehicles, operating for the next 10 years.

(Source: The Southern Motor Industry by Jack Johnstone).

Interestingly, world wars actually figure into the history of this building. After WWI, the usual war memorials erected were monuments of one style or another. However, after WWII, there was a movement to make war memorials something that the community could use. So it was with this in mind that in 1948, the Otautau RSA and the Town Board had been considering what would be a fitting memorial for the local men who served in World War II. It was felt that the former garage would fit the bill, but there were major renovations that needed to be made. Those renovations didn't happen until 1953-54 when good wool prices gave them the money to afford it. Part of the building had been used for wool storage, and when prices escalated, it paved the way for the conversion work to proceed. The Otautau RSA named the building the Otautau RSA Memorial Hall and Youth Centre. It was then gifted to the community, and the Town Council accepted guardianship of it.

The building saw a lot of use for about 38 years as a place where kids could come and play organised sport, where community events and entertainment happened, and where the RSA had their club rooms. In 1990, with declining use, the Wallace Community Board sought tenders and sold the memorial hall to a local business owner, relocating the RSA to the former Plunket and Library Rooms that had been built onto the Town Hall in 1931.

After a century of use, the old Smith and Laing building, "the store that serves you best," still stands proudly in our town and is the home of Steentjes Joinery Co.

Thanks to Peter Ayson, Secretary/Treasurer of the Otautau RSA, for writing the history of the RSA with respect to this building.

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