Church’s service ends

A Presbyterian church in South Dunedin was reduced to rubble yesterday.

Other historic churches in Dunedin await a similar fate.

It took all day to demolish the St James Church in King Edward St, which had stood since 1890, and it will take a few more days before all debris is completely cleared.

Southern Presbyterian finance and property convener Keith Pheasant said the decision to bring it down was a matter of safety, as it did not meet earthquake requirements.

‘‘It was a disaster waiting to happen.

St James Church in South Dunedin was demolished yesterday because it was not earthquake-proof. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
St James Church in South Dunedin was demolished yesterday because it was not earthquake-proof. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery

‘‘The only thing holding it up was two steel rods in the roof, but the walls were all just brick.’’

He said the cost to make it earthquake-proof was too much and the final product would not be worth it.

But one special part of the building would remain.

The stained-glass window was removed before it was demolished and would be used for a new chapel, which would stand in the church’s place.

The chapel would seat about 100 people and use parts of the old church pews.

The demolition was another hit to the future of Dunedin’s historic churches as a result of earthquake rules and diminishing congregations.

The 1914 Andersons Bay Presbyterian Church closed in 2015 after an earthquake assessment showed repair costs that could not be covered.

Following that, the Kaikorai Presbyterian church closed its doors in 2017 when a report showed that to bring it up to standard would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There was also debate last year about whether the Presbyterian church in Maori Hill, which had closed in 2016, should be demolished.

The decision to demolish St James Church was made at an annual meeting last year when the majority voted not to spend more money on the church building.

molly.houseman@odt.co.nz

Comments

First, the old Catholic places, now a series of Calvinist.