Author(s): Alan Stanton
Some crazy ideas are worth acting on. In June 1979 Alan Stanton had one of those – to save Nelson’s magnificent Fairfield House. It had begun its life as a humble working family’s cottage in the 1850s, been extended into a graceful grand home by the influential Arthur and Jane Maria Atkinson from the 1870s, and then used as a boarding house for the town’s girls’ and boys’ colleges.
As soon as Alan saw the house, by then sadly derelict and abandoned, he knew that he must rescue it for the people of Nelson, so he moved in as a squatter. Soon he became the honorary caretaker and after two hard years, in which his crusade attracted both enthusiastic support and cynical scepticism, the major restoration began. It took over two decades. Now Fairfield is a beloved part of Nelson, a gracious and welcoming host to many visitors and the hub of community events and activities.
Anything is Possible tells the story of Fairfield’s resurrection. Alan describes the many challenges – lack of money, blocked drains, bees in the roof, dry rot in the walls, no glass in the windows and bureaucracy all around. He tells how the loyal, dedicated and supportive Friends of Old Fairfield (FooF) were formed. He recounts the mysteries surrounding many missing parts of the house and how some of these were returned. Along the way there are reflections and anecdotes about life, sport, employment and politics, all written in Alan’s easy, humorous and approachable style.
This is an inspirational story of how a small, tenacious group of committed people with a common vision can make a lasting difference. And it is about the building of community and the appreciation of heritage. With determination, love and hard work, anything really is possible.
Alan Stanton was born in Dunedin in 1945, brought up in Auckland and has spent most of his adult life in Nelson. After training in accounting and a period teaching, Alan successfully ran a small business making ‘Tree Toy’s’ from native woods inspired by his children Ben and Cherie. Through his Fairfield adventures Alan became a builder until he suffered a major stroke in 2006 and turned his hand to writing. Alan and his wife Christine live at Silkwood, near Mapua in a house they built together.