Interest piqued in sale of historic Anglican church

18:14, Feb 25 2010

A piece of Kaikoura's history is on the market, and creating a lot of interest around town.

Built in 1873, St James Anglican Church on Red Swamp Rd was the first purpose-built church in Kaikoura and signified the start of religious places of worship in the district.

Before then, there were no churches or clergy in the area, and most worship took place in people's houses.

The district's Presbyterian congregation also initially worshipped at St James.

As a result of the appointment of the first minister to the district, Anglican vicar Rev. Thomas Porritt, attendances at services grew, and he consequently proposed the construction of a church.

The site at Red Swamp Rd was chosen, and built with donated timber.

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The unlined and unpainted church opened on August 24, 1873.

It is likely that burials in the small graveyard began shortly after construction of the church but it was largely unused after 1973, with most parishioners choosing the public cemetery in town.

In 1882 a growing congregation meant more work was required, this time to extend the existing facilities to include a nave and a porch.

However with the increased use of St Peter's on Torquay St the church declined in significance in the years that followed.

It was not until 1946 that the church received its next major renovation, with the replacement of the floor at a cost of $350.

But 40 years later the decision was made to concentrate Anglican worship in Kaikoura at St Peter's, and St James was deconsecrated in 1987.

It remains a category two historic places site.

The church was then leased to the Kaikoura Art Society as a studio and gallery, at which time substantial work was undertaken to the building to replace cladding and windows, brace the interior walls and add a kitchen.

St James is now up for sale, and has generated a huge amount of local interest from both prospective buyers and people wishing to have a look around the grounds and building from a historical perspective.

Real estate agent Kathy Thompson has been inundated with calls about the property and is keen for everyone with an interest to get the chance to look around, whether from a purchaser's point of view or simply to take in a piece of local history before it is sold.

Because of the amount of interest, there will be an open day at St James on Friday from 12 to 1pm. All welcome.

Kaikoura Star