The restoration and adaptive reuse of the former St James Presbyterian Church in Newtown is the first stage of a comprehensive mixed use urban development. It will eventually include a pedestrian street opposite Wellington Hospital linking to Adelaide Road, a childcare centre, restoration of the historic adjoining Old Manse and Church Hall and new contemporary townhouses.
The project was developed in close association with Heritage New Zealand, Wellington City Council and the projects Architectural Heritage Advisor. This prominent landmark building was originally constructed in 1899. It includes a mix of Italian Renaissance and Gothic features.
The church was deconsecrated in 2011, had been abandoned for many years and had fallen into significant disrepair. It was unloved, earthquake prone and was suffering from years of degradation.
The exterior was faithfully reconstructed with new cavity cladding, insulation, seismic strengthening, matching windows and ornate details. The only aesthetic external design changes allowed were the lowering of the arched window sills for the insertions of doors, skylights in the roof and windows installed in the bell tower.
There are now five three and four bedroom apartments that are between two and four stories in height, with mezzanine floors, bridges and a spectacular former bell tower.
New insertions were undertaken in a contemporary style so that the legibility of the original and the alterations is evident. The original interior details including sarking, ornate trusses, rimu ceilings and ventilators have been restored. Native framing timbers were salvaged and reused throughout the building in the staircases.
The former St James Church’s future is now secure. The building will remain a prominent Newtown landmark for people to enjoy for many more years to come.