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Brooklyn people want to save unsafe building

Oct 26th, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

BROOKLYN residents don’t want an earthquake-prone building’s rich history to go unnoticed when the decision is made to tear it down.

A final notice requiring the owners to either strengthen or demolish the existing building by November was issued by Wellington City Council earlier this year.

The building has been deemed an earthquake risk by council since 1975.

Resource consent has been granted for a new early childhood centre to be built at the 37 Cleveland St site.

Chris Rabey, of the Brooklyn Local History Group, wants to see the existing building preserved and has compiled an extensive history of it.

“There’s more to it than I thought, it’s actually quite unique,” he says.

He says there is a lot of support in the community to save the building and preserve its history, but admits that unless the building owners change their minds, it’s a lost cause.

The building was constructed by Doug Waldie Senior in 1903 and made out of Fitchett bricks, a particular brand made in Brookyln.

It originally had stables at the rear, shops at the bottom and accommodation upstairs.

The building became known as Waldie’s Hall and was synonymous with community activities such as dances and socials, which were held there up until the early 1960s.

In the 1920s Mr Waldie owned the first taxi in Wellington and kept it in a garage to the rear of the building.

Mr Waldie owned the building until 1923, when his son Doug Waldie Junior assumed ownership.

During World War II it was taken over by the army and used for the manufacturing of uniforms.

Mr Rabey says except for some subtle interior alterations in the shops, the building has not been changed in any way since the day it was built.

The building is not listed as a heritage building on the New Zealand Historic Places Register.

Its construction in 1903 also means it was built before there were any structural design codes in New Zealand.

Mr Rabey has contacted the council about saving the building, but has yet to receive a reply.

Resident Sophie Jolliffe first found out about the building’s approaching demise in a local newsletter.

She contacted the Brooklyn Residents’ Association about potentially saving the building, but she concedes there isn’t much either party can do.

The association says the plans seems to be going ahead and agrees that there is little the community can do.

Association member Dave Fowler says the loss of the building takes away some of the suburb’s character, but that its replacement may boost business for the shops.

Mrs Jolliffe says it is a significant part of Brooklyn and is a great representation of the Victorian feel of the suburb, and points out little details such as the building’s exterior wrought iron supports.

“It’s a really important building on that street,” she says.

“Keep it for the people.”

Earthquake-prone building notices were issued to the owners in 2004 and 2006.

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