Hunnibell's building

Location: 257 High Street, Rangiora

Luke Hunnibell, with his wife Sarah and two young sons, arrived in Lyttelton from Suffolk in 1864. They made their way to Rangiora and Luke became the first bootmaker in the town, setting himself up in trade in a little cob cottage where he lived at the corner of Direct Road (now Victoria Street) and Brook Street (now Northbrook Road).

On 20 June 1870 Luke purchased one acre of land on the Oxford and Rangiora Road (now High Street) from John Hamilton Ward for £140. In about 1872 he built a two-storey colonial-style shop and dwelling of wood with a brick chimney and cellar. Some of the upstairs rooms were used to house apprentice bootmakers brought out from England. Behind the house there was an orchard and vegetable garden, with a much admired garden with summer house on the west side of the house. The underground cellar was used to store home-made wine, jam, beer and vegetables, as well as coal.

Luke’s youngest son, Alfred, took over the bootmaking business in 1903 and ran it until his retirement in 1954. During the Second World War the front portion of the boot shop was used to pack and despatch food parcels to New Zealand soldiers on the front lines and prisoner-of-war camps.

Since Alf’s retirement several businesses have occupied the building including the ANZ Bank, an accountant, a hairdresser, a second-hand shop and a cycle shop. For the past 12 years it has been home to the popular Capone’s Restaurant.

The building remained in Hunnibell family ownership until 1966, and is the oldest commercial building in High Street. It has a Historic Place Category II registration.

The Hunnibell’s building was given Landmarks status at a ceremony held on Monday, 3 December 2012, with the plaque being unveiled by two of Luke Hunnibell’s great grandchildren, Max Luisetti and Diana McGlashan. The building currently houses Capone's Restaurant.

View photos from the ceremony on Flickr.

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