A commitment to protecting heritage has led to the resurrection of the Grosvenor—Timaru's iconic 19th century building. Also known as the Grand Old Lady of the South, the Grosvenor is entwined in Timaru's history with ornate styling dating back to when it was built in 1885.
The revived hotel is showing off its old rimu paneling and once-hidden kauri floor, which are now exposed around the bar and the dining area, hidden by carpet only in the seating area and by the fire. In the dining are a cabinet holds mementos of the hotel's past and above these sits the old Grosvenor Hotel sign, brought back into the gaze of the public after many years of being in storage.
For owner Ping Lim, it was vital to protect the English heritage of the Grosvner and its listed heritage listed values.
“...we like the creaking old floorboards, uneven wall lining, and different layout for every room because that creates the historical charm of the hotel.”
Veering on the artistic side, works from artists including Bill Hammond, Hannah Kidd, James Robinson, Lonnie Hutchinson, Rob McDowell (a student of Doris Lusk), Shiori Matsumoto and Bill Scott have been installed.
Lim has also utilised the once famed red bricks of Timaru’s past. “Red bricks were its forte and kilns were everywhere until materials ran out. So, just outside the Grosvenor's entrance is a brick arch, paying homage to its original local industry. By the time renovation is completed later next year, we would have the first HoMA (Hotel of Modern Art) in New Zealand.’’
Having hosted the Queen in the 1950s as part of the Golden Jubilee, and again in the 1970s, the site is also where the Canterbury Rugby Union was first formed in 1879. A plaque on the building stating that still remains. So who of the famed variety will be staying at the Grosvenor next? Well, if you didn’t know Russia had a rugby team, they do. And they’ll be soaking up the Grosvenor’s revamp in January for a week as they build up to the Rugby World Cup (their first ever entry into the World Cup, just so you know).