Grand, tired St Patrick’s will be sold

St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Lawrence parish chairman Geoff Blackmore stands in the soon-to-be...
St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Lawrence parish chairman Geoff Blackmore stands in the soon-to-be-sold church’s gallery on Thursday. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON
Another of Lawrence’s historic churches is to be sold, in what has been described as a ‘‘wrench’’ for parishioners.

St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Lawrence parish chairman Geoff Blackmore informed the Otago Daily Times of the decision this week, drawing to a close a process that began in December last year.

At that time, Mr Blackmore said the 129-year-old, category 2 heritage-listed church on Colonsay St had significant issues, requiring an estimated $1million to fix.

The exterior of the church
The exterior of the church
He said work identified included complete reroofing, refurbishment of about 25 windows, minor earthquake strengthening, and addressing rising damp.

At a public meeting in February this year parishioners and the Lawrence community said they would prefer to retain the building as a church.

However, Mr Blackmore said the anticipated cost of restoration could not practically be compassed by the community.

‘‘People have been very supportive of doing something, but unfortunately the dollars aren’t there.

‘‘Our own parishioners are ageing and dwindling, and the wider community is unable to help.

‘‘That means, unfortunately, we’ve had to make the very hard decision to deconsecrate the building as a church, and move to have it sold.’’

A closing Mass of deconsecration would take place on December 5, he said.

‘‘We’d welcome those with connections to the church to attend. However, due to Covid-19 restrictions we’re limited to 100 maximum, so we’ll also be live-streaming the service on YouTube.’’

He asked those planning to attend in person to email to stpatrick1892@gmail.com.

The plastered, double-brick church was designed by Dunedin architect Francis Petre in 1892.

As a category 2 heritage-listed structure, new owners would need to preserve original architectural features wherever possible.

‘‘We haven’t really thought how it might be used,’’ Mr Blackmore said.

‘‘Obviously we’d like someone to put the money in and restore it properly. Other former churches in Lawrence have been made successfully into private residences, so who knows?’’

In February 2016, the town’s 144-year-old, deconsecrated Holy Trinity Anglican Church was sold to Auckland buyers, reported to be planning to use it as a holiday home.

The former Lawrence Presbyterian Church on Colonsay St is also a private residence.

Mr Blackmore said parishioners would meet for worship in the parish centre.

‘‘Many of our parishioners have had a lifelong connection with the church, so it’s a bit of a wrench for them.

‘‘It’s a beautiful church but, unfortunately, it may just be a bit grand for its own good at the present time.’’

richard.davison@odt.co.nz

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