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'Grotto' site up for grabs

Tuesday, 8th February, 2011

The old Otto Herman Holten’s hardware store, or ‘Otto’s Grotto’, site at the end of Hebbard St is on the market The old Otto Herman Holten’s hardware store, or ‘Otto’s Grotto’, site at the end of Hebbard St is on the market

By Kurtis Eichler

The old 'Otto's Grotto' site has been put on the market, much to the surprise and disappointment of its biggest fan.

Owner Matthew Scott decided to sell when he left town for Sydney to be closer to his partner. He bought the site 12 months ago with plans of building a backpackers hostel.

Mr Scott paid $15,000 for the block which he has now cleaned up ready for sale.

"(There was a lot of) mess there but that's all gone now," he told the BDT.

Mr Scott, who lived in the city for two years, said he hoped someone with a bit of knowledge about the site snapped it up.

"It's got a great view of the outback. The first thing that took my breathe away was the view."

The news came as a surprise to Karl 'Otto' Hahn, who had been attempting to restore the ruins before the public trustee warned him off the property.

He said he was surprised the land was for sale.

A "great supporter" of the late Otto Holten and his Grotto, Mr Hahn said he was curious as to why anyone would want to buy or sell the land.

"It's very odd to me ... there's nothing you can do with the place."

Mr Hahn, 69, said he visited the ruins yesterday and said he was upset by the owner's decision to throw out objects collected over the years.

"This mess that he claims to be there is actually of historic value."

He also said the ruins had recently been "defaced" by graffiti.

Otto Holten, who died close to 40 years ago, was a Danish migrant who opened the store soon after arriving in the country.

He was blackballed by the Barrier Industrial Council for sacking a worker, and his store was burned down. It was judged to be an accident.

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