‘Heartbeat’ of Warwick preserved for next generation
AFTER their own experience as small-time “archaeologists”, the owners of this Warwick hotel have decided now is the time to leave something for the future to look back on.
Criterion Hotel owner Valerie Prentice was gutting the hotel’s cold room for renovations when she realised there was no sign of history from the owners 40 year’s prior.
“We were looking, looking, looking but found nothing,” she said.
“We gutted it down to bare earth and thought we’d at least find a buckle or a coin, an old newspaper telling us how much meat cost back then, but there was nothing.”
At the time, Mrs Prentice’s husband joked that they should create a time capsule for their slice of history — but the idea was one that stuck.
Calling upon groups such as the Warwick Chamber of Commerce and other individuals such as manager Kylie Jenner, who had worked in the hotel ever since she was a kitchen hand, Ms Prentice wants to save a snapshot of this unique time in history.
“I always say we don’t own the hotel, we’re just custodians of it and perhaps in 35 year’s time there’ll be a next lot of custodians with their own history,” she said.
“It’s amazing to think in 30 years, a USB stick could be old technology or the beer cooler we’ve put in there may be a collector’s item.”
Ms Prentice said the hotel, which had played such a vital part in the history of Warwick, was a fitting place to hold the capsule.
“It was one of the first hotels in Warwick, and in the late 1800s, it was known to have one of the best billiards table of all the colonies,” she said.
“Chefs from around the world came here, dignitaries stayed here.
“It’s been instrumental in the development of Warwick and has always been its heartbeat.”
As for what the future of hotels looked like, Ms Prentice was just about certain it’d be anything but dead.
“Hotels were the places people gathered in when their houses were too small, they’re the places people still come to when they’re lonely and need to have a drink and a chat,” she said.
“If anything, coronavirus has put a prime microscope on how we need that contact.
“You will always need a place like a pub for generations and centuries to come.
“When you walk in the threshold you come in as one— everyone is accepted.”