Not even the Great Depression could stop the building of St Luke's Presbyterian church – in fact its construction kept people in work.
Now 80 years on the building at 130 Remuera Rd is still being put to good use by the church.
The decision was made to replace the old wooden church building in 1928 but the Depression struck before building began in November 1931.
Honorary assistant minister the Reverend Dr Allan Davidson says James and William Fletcher, the founders of Fletcher Construction, were members of the church and played a huge part in the building project.
"It was the Depression and that's where the Fletchers were important as they wanted to keep some work for their workers.
"As well as that James and William were members," he says.
The brothers were on the building fund committee and helped to get finance for the project.
They also supplied the plans which they were given by a cousin back home in Scotland.
The plans were based on a building in Twechar in Scotland, erected in 1902.
They were eventually contracted to carry out the construction.
The building was completed in early 1932 and dedicated on July 7 of that year. A celebration service this weekend marks the 80th anniversary of the dedication.
Mr Davidson says the brothers played a vital role in the project.
"It cost over 15,000 to build the church which was a considerable amount of money and the Depression had an impact on some of the members here."
The Fletcher family no longer plays an active part in the church but the oak communion table was donated by William Fletcher and his wife. The bell in the church tower was also given in Mr Fletcher's memory.
The church appears to be made of stone but in fact it is made of reinforced concrete and brick faced by Putaruru stone. The inside walls are plastered to look like stone.
The church is full of memories but Mr Davidson says he has a vibrant congregation.
"While we look to the past and celebrate the present, we also look to the future," he says. "When you think of all the things these walls have witnessed – it's a place that's played an important part in people's lives and continues to."
A great-granddaughter of the Fletcher brothers will be present for this Sunday's celebration of the 80th anniversary of the church. The service begins at 9.30am and there will be morning tea afterwards.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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