Sunday, December 5, 2010

Genealogy group visit to historic places in Tara Road

Last week I went with fellow members of the Wellsford Branch of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists to visit a couple of historic places in the district as our final gathering of the year.
First stop was to the old Stone House and Stone Dairy, now owned by Cliff Matchett.
An article in the Mangawhai Focus on 11 June 2009 (page 2) said:
"During this year's Mangawhai Walking Weekend, participants on the Historic Walk on the Tara witnessed the handover of special plaques for the old Stone House and Stone Dairy in Tara Road that have been expertly restored by owner Cliff Matchett.
"The plaques, produced by the NZ Historic Places Trust, recognise the historic importance of these two buildings, which were built in the 1890s for former Cornish miner Peter James, who bought 92 acres on the Tara and commissioned the building of the house and dairy.
"Nowadays, the Stone Dairy is offered to visitors as self-contained historic accommodation."

Photo of the Stone Dairy before restoration
The Stone Dairy has come a long way since the start of the restoration.  It's a beautiful little stone building, as you can see in these photos.
Next we climbed back up the hill and took a look at the Stone House, which Cliff has also restored.
Both the house and the dairy were built of local volcanic stone in the late 1880s or early 1890s.  The house is made with smaller-grade stones (rubble) in the core of the walls, then cemented. 
The Stone Dairy today

The Stone House

The Stone House

After leaving Cliff's place, we walked along the road to the Brown's where the Tara Road School building is located.  It has been moved around a bit over the years, as the schooling needs of the local children changed, and has more recently been used as a packing house and coolstore.

These days Ken and Gail are working to restore the school house back to its former glory.

We then took a look at Gail's beautiful garden.  There are several spring-fed ponds in the garden, and the ground in places was very soft with damp.  It seemed odd to be walking in damp spots given that we're fast heading for a drought right now!

Next stop was the Smashed Pipi cafe in Mangawhai, where the group enjoyed a delicious lunch.