Keys to history’s doors

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Queenstown Lakes District Council boss Debra Lawson shows off the keys to Arrowtown’s three restored 1870s miners’ cottages. 

Lawson was presented with the historic mementoes last October to commemorate her council’s role in the $2.6 million restoration project. 

She’s had the keys mounted on wood left over from the cottages’ restoration and will display them in her Queenstown office. 

“The cottages are very much part of our heritage,” Lawson says. “You have to understand where you’ve come from to know where you’re going.” 

The cottages had fallen into disrepair while owned by Irish property billionaire Eamon Cleary. 

A high-profile Save Our Cottages campaign by Mountain Scene prompted local developer John Martin to buy them from Cleary for $1.9m and transfer them to the council at the same price. An Arrowtown community trust then fundraised for their restoration.