I am a current intern working with Emma for the Petone Settlers Museum. My name is Claire Folster and I am in the third year of a BA majoring in Art History and Classical Studies. I am doing a BA internship paper through Victoria which allowed me to get this great opportunity. Over the past month or so, I have been researching Jackson Street to help with a refurbishment of PSM, and I have really been astounded by all the history. I didn’t know much about Jackson Street when I started, but it really is a great little area, with some great stories.
Jackson Street was established in the 19th century, due to a growing community in Petone. It first begun with some general stores, a butchery, some fruiterers, and soon grew immensely. Factories lined the end of the street, with a bustling centre closer to the railway station. Friends would come to Jackson Street and shop and socialise together outside long standing stores, like Liebezeits. In 1882 Petone’s first school opened where the historical jail and Café Chavi is now. By the 1900s Jackson Street was the hub of commercial life in the Hutt Valley. With council chambers built on the street in 1903, the street had reached its peak of importance.
After cheap public transport became available in the 1950s Jackson Street saw a decline in patrons. Employers began to close down long standing factories and iconic shops (like Liebezeits) were forced to close. The council chambers were demolished and Jackson Street was in a bad place – until the 1980s, when historical buildings began to be preserved. The Jackson Street Programme was formed and buildings began to be restored. Liebezeits became Village Beads, and the old Grand Theatre becoming apartments and shops.
The plaques placed outside each historical building make available, for everyone to read, the history of the street – which is important to a town like Petone. I am glad to see some of the historic buildings, which had been falling into disrepair, restored. They give Jackson Street a lot of character, I think, and make it more of a destination to visit.
Claire Folster, Hutt City Museums Intern