Grand Hotel stories sought

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MORE than acentury has passed since it was opened — and the Grand Hotel on Dee St witnessed it all.
The Royal visit of 1954 when Queen Elizabeth and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh stayed, the Springbok tour protests of 1981, many weddings held in her function rooms, the regular drinkers in her bars and the host of guests who have dined in her dining rooms.
Whether it be guests, staff, visitors or party-goers, researcher Rebecca Amundsen wants to hear their stories.
The Grand Hotel Research Project, launched on Friday, aimed to record the building’s stories from the past, as well as its place in the story of Invercargill’s inner city, she said.
‘‘It is important to gather these stories now before more are lost. These stories help us to understand our past, our social history and why we have the city we have — how it’s changed and how it’s stayed the same.’’
Grand Hotel manager Linda McGaw said she had been overwhelmed with the amount of people who had shown an interest in the history of the old building, with people regularly coming in and talking about their experiences there.
‘‘I am hoping more people will come out of the woodwork and also share their stories.’’
Ms Amundsen expected it would take a year to interview people and do further research.
The hotel, designed by Invercargill-born architect CJ Brodrick, was opened in 1913.
Researching Mr Brodrick was also on her radar, as was the building’s history with the Invercargill Licensing Trust which owned it from the mid-1940s to the early 2000s.
Once collated, Ms Amundsen said she hoped to present the collected information in a story format online, as well as in the foyer of the hotel.

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