Sep 12, 2008

Melbourne House

Behind the modernised facade of the building occupied in 2008 by Hunters and Collectors on the western side of High Street between Cashel and Lichfield Streets is the 1875 Melbourne House.

Built by the Polish Ironmongers Solomon and Hiram Nashelski to replace their single storey hardware shop of 1864, they shared the ground floor with Hermann Isaac, a watchmaker and Solomon Nashelski's son-in-law (Isaac would later become a local name to be reckoned with).

Christchurch was something of a Wild West frontier town in the late nineteenth century (some might consider that it still is); revolvers could purchased over the Nashelski's counter in the late 1880s and business was good - they had added a fourth storey before 1900. 68 year-old Solomon Nashelski of Armagh Street died on the 5th of May, 1890 and his hardware shop became Ashby, Bergh and Company.

Edward E Ashby and the Norwegian Ludwig Bergh (1848-1895) had both begun work at the original Ironmongery in 1864, and although their names remain incised into the Limestone facade, the 145 year old ghost of the Nashelki brother's humble enterprise lingers on in the twenty-first century as the automotive parts retailer Repco.

One of the sixteen major buildings gutted in the Great Fire of 1908 (centre) Melbourne House was refurbished to its current appearance in the following year.


kuaka said...

hardly "wild west frontier town". more quaintly, provincial. ah, to be damned by bland, if not faint, praise...

Canterbury Heritage said...

From the perspective of cultural anthropology it might be considered that western civilisation's most isolated outpost exhibits many of the characteristics traditionally associated with frontier cultures. From that wider view such traits afford both advantage and disadvantage, the latter possibly confirmed by the brain drain, of a third of the populace, to the islands to the north and west.