16 January 2015

Looking back: New beginnings in Gore

I recently acquired these two very old photos. The first time I glanced at them I had no idea of where they were taken or who was in them. But the more I looked at them the more familiar they seemed to me until one day the penny dropped; they were taken in the town that I am so familiar with, the town that is a part of me and where I feel most at home. 

These photos were taken in the town of Gore, and this building is in fact the beginnings of the large department store called H & J Smith’s that still today stands proudly on the Main Street.

My eyesight is no longer the best so I scanned these photos at very high resolution to see if I could bring up some of the faces to see if there was anyone familiar amongst them. And when I brought them up on my computer screen, there looking back at me was my maternal great grandfather, James (Jim) Paul SCHULTZ.

James Paul SCHULTZ
(1887 - 1973)

Jim was born in East Gore in 1887 to Polish immigrant parents, and he was a painter and paperhanger in Gore his whole working life. These are the very first photos I had seen of Jim at work, in his white painting clothes. Looking at these two photos I can only but guess that all the men in white are painters and the others probably builders or labourers. The front windows of the shop appear to be covered in white paint so obviously the shop is still in the process of being built and is not yet open.
James (Jim) SCHULTZ looking from one of the
upstairs windows that overlook Irk Street in Gore.

At this point in time I do not have an exact date for these photos. I know that in the past few years there has been a book written on the history of the H & J Smith department stores in Southland so I may have to find a copy to see when the Gore store was built. At the same time as I acquired these two photos I also acquired another photo of Jim, who appears about the same age and also taken at work painting another brand new, not quite completed local building. This other building has the date 1909 proudly across the top of the door way so I can only assume that the H & J Smith buildings were completed around that time also.

Regardless of the exact date, these wonderful old photos are still probably 100 or more years old. And the fact that I can now see my great grandfather Jim, hard at work decorating this lovely old building that still stands magnificently today in our beautiful town, makes me very proud indeed.

Obviously extended over the years and now somewhat larger, the H & J Smith's
building on the corner of Main and Irk Streets in Gore.       (Photo taken in 2012)


  1. What a wonderful story and those pictures are real treasures.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comments Jill :-)