24 May 2014

Family history up in smoke

7:26 pm on 24 May 2014

A woman whose family owned a historic Central Otago homestead for more than half a century says its destruction is a devastating loss for the whole community.

A massive blaze on Friday, sparked by lightning, gutted the Paradise Homestead, near Glenorchy, which had a Category 1 heritage listing and served as a luxury lodge.

The homestead was designed and built in 1883 by New Zealand's first government architect, William Mason, who later became the first mayor of Dunedin.

It was bought by the Miller family in 1949 and was their home until 1998.

Marijke Miller became a member of the Paradise Trust that restored the homestead after her father's death.

It took a year for her and her sister to go through everything in their childhood home. "There was one room full of deer antlers, for example. My dad was a hunter. There was another room full of trunks and boxes and photographs that were my grandparents' - nothing ever got thrown out."

Ms Miller says the homestead was a symbol of resilience for the Glenorchy community and many people worked hard over the years to restore Paradise to its former glory.

"It was such a beautiful building ... it was just a symbol of what can be done with nothing, if you just have enough heart."

The house was owned by one family for more than half a century.

The house was owned by one family for more than half a century. Photo: JOHN CRUMP

The remains of Paradise Homestead.

The remains of Paradise Homestead. Photo: JOHN CRUMP