By Suzanne Christie-Broun
My father, Poul Christie purchased the Whitford Store in 1986.
Previous to this, the Whitford Store dates back to 1910. Over the years it has served the Whitford community as a post office, general store, service station, wool craft shop and saddlery shop.
In 1986, Poul Christie with 2 other local business partners purchased the dilapidated general store and refurbished it into a licensed Restaurant, called The General Store.
During the refurbishment, Poul recollects there was the original bank vault in the centre of the building (it still remains today). This dates back to when it operated as a post office over 100 years ago and it appeared it hadn’t been opened since as it was securely locked. Poul offered the challenge to his workers, whoever could open the bank vault would earn themselves a crate of beer. So, off Poul went and came back an hour later.
Strangely, the bank vault door was open from the front with no damage. Then he walked around the back of the vault to find they had smashed down the vault’s brick wall to make a hole small enough to climb through to open the locked vault from the inside!
The historic building was restored to its former glory with the addition of a verandah surrounding the building. Inside, the floors were replaced. The original Kauri walls and ceilings were restored along with the original hand floated glass windows with circles. New water tanks and a sewer system was installed. The interior was decorated with vintage pieces acquired from the local Whitford tip and donations, such as saddles, bridles, farm equipment, gumboots and crockery. These hung from the ceilings and the walls creating eclectic intrigue. The walls were decorated with 1930s newspapers which were vanished over and a vintage cash register was at the entrance. The centre piece, of course was the bank vault, now conveniently restored to a wine cellar.
In 1994, The General Store Restaurant was sold but has continued as a restaurant since then, and currently is operating at The Stables.