Restored urns return to historic building

Return of the urns . . . Ian Murton has restored the urns from the Junction Hotel. PHOTO: NIC DUFF

A historic Oamaru building has had some of its original features restored.

Four urns, nearly 150 years old, are back on display outside the front of the former Junction Hotel building.

Ian Murton had been restoring the building for more than two years, and said the urns were an important part of the building’s history.

‘‘I know a lot of people were concerned about these disappearing when I bought the place, [but] they’re here.’’

The urns were originally positioned atop the main sign on the hotel’s roof. He was amazed at how much work had gone into them.

‘‘The detail that’s in them is tremendous.

‘‘[They were] so high up, you really wouldn’t know — you wouldn’t think you’d see all the detail around them.’’

The rest of the building’s restorations were coming along slowly, Mr Murton said.

The Junction Hotel was built for John McKay in 1879 and originally contained 34 rooms.

Mr McKay declared bankruptcy not long after the hotel’s opening, and in 1885 the property was sold by the Scottish and New Zealand Investment Company to Oamaru hotel keeper Patrick Corcoran for £1750. It was then operated by a succession of licensees.

The building had been used for many different purposes since its time as a hotel, including a general store, a vegetable store, a bottle store and a second-hand bookshop.

It had been largely neglected since the late 1990s.

Last year, Mr Murton invited guests into the building for a tour during the Victorian Heritage Celebrations.

He planned to do the same again this year and would put the money towards the restoration process.