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Marquis ready for the next chapter

The newly spruced-up Marquis Hotel is poised to become Chapelli’s, Carterton’s newest pizzeria and bar.

Operator Steve Chapman has run various pizzerias during his career, including Kelburn’s award-winning Red Tomato, and Chapelli’s branches in Featherston and Lower Hutt.

“I kept driving past the building and seeing the ‘for lease’ sign, so I decided to take it over,” Chapman said.

“I like the heritage of the building. It has some interesting history. People say the late queen [Elizabeth II] stood on the balcony when she came to Wairarapa.”

Chapman said the restaurant would open in a month’s time, and admitted to being “a bit nervous, but excited” at the prospect.

The building has been empty for seven months to be earthquake strengthened and renovated.

Chapman said the inside was in good shape since being done up but it was cleaning the hotel’s exterior – which had seen better days – that was at the top of the to-do list.

The original hotel was built in 1876 by Thomas Hooker, who previously owned the Belvedere Sawmill, and was subsequently taken over by Henry Callaher, a canny businessman who made a lot of money.

In January 1924, the hotel burnt down but was rebuilt in six months.

Wairarapa historian Gareth Winter said the venue was incredibly popular in its heyday.

“It was described as the best hotel in New Zealand.

“Hotels were very important in those days because there were no motels. If you ever needed to stay in Carterton, this would’ve been where.”

The hotel’s popularity peaked between 1908 and 1947, when Masterton was a dry borough, Winter said.

“The liquor ban didn’t apply in Carterton, so even though it was a small town, much of the drinking took place there.”

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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