Wellington's St Mary's to close for 18 months

Last updated 13:20 28/07/2013
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LUKE APPLEBY/Fairfax NZ

SAFETY FIRST: Engineers inspect St Mary of the Angels Church on Boulcott St in Wellington in the days following the 6.5 quake.

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LUKE APPLEBY/Fairfax NZ
CHECKING IN: Council staff and engineers arrive to check St Mary of the Angels for damage in the days following the 6.5 quake.

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St Mary of the Angels Church in central Wellington has been closed for strengthening following last week's earthquake.

The earthquake-prone church in Boulcott St came through the quake unscathed but the decision had been made to close it for up to 18 months while previously-planned seismic strengthening work was done, parish priest Rev Barry Scannell said.

''We were probably looking to close towards the end this year but after last week we decided to expedite in the interests of safety."

He said the church had not been used since last Sunday night and parishioners were told of the closure when they attended services in the church hall this morning.

The nearly 100-year-old church has a Category 1 Historic Places Trust listing.

Mr Scannell said detailed costings of the strengthening project had not yet been done but it was probably going to cost $5 to $8 million.

"The safety of our parishioners and church users is paramount and therefore we have made the decision to close the church so that the design and strengthening work can be fast-tracked". 

"While the church is closed the parish will celebrate weekday masses in the parish hall and after arrangements are made, Sunday masses will be celebrated at St Joseph's Church, Mt Victoria and Sacred Heart Cathedral in Thorndon". 

"Our priority, with the Church now closed, is to set about raising the funds for this essential work to secure the future of this Wellington landmark.

"The Parish will be going out to all Wellingtonians and others to seek their support for preserving this Wellington icon, which is treasured by so many people in the city and throughout New Zealand," said Mr Scannell.

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- The Dominion Post

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