Community of the Sacred Name convent may be saved

SAVED? The former Community of the Sacred Name convent in the central city may be saved by a grant of almost $1 million.
Kirk Hargreaves

SAVED? The former Community of the Sacred Name convent in the central city may be saved by a grant of almost $1 million.

City councillors favour giving the owners of a heritage-listed former convent in central Christchurch a $950,000 grant to help save it.

The former Community of the Sacred Name convent, at the corner of Barbadoes and St Asaph streets, includes a two-storey, Cyril Mountfort-designed wooden chapel and dates to the late 19th century.

It is the only Anglican convent in New Zealand and has a category 1 listing with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and a Group 1 listing in the Christchurch City Plan. It was given to the Home and Family Trust in "as is, where is" condition and needs about $2.6 million worth of earthquake repairs.

The trust wants to fix and remodel the building for use as its base.

The Christchurch City Council's communities, housing and economic development committee yesterday voted in favour of giving the trust a $950,000 heritage grant to help it pay for the work. The decision needs to be ratified by the full council.

Brendan Smyth, the council's acting heritage team leader, told councillors the building deserved to be saved. It had been off-limits to the public as a convent, but could now be open for people to see its beauty.

"This is as original as you will get in terms of a turn-of-the-century chapel by a prominent architect. It's a fantastic building," Smyth said.

Councillor Ali Jones said she was concerned that even with a $950,000 council grant the trust would still have to find twice that amount to proceed with work needed to save the building. She questioned whether the council should hold off until the rest of the money had been secured.

"I don't want the building to be lost but I want some more surety there will be progress and they will get the rest of their money," Jones said.

Cr Paul Lonsdale said he had met with the trust and was confident it would be able to raise the money required, particularly if the council showed its support by committing to the funding.

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Committee chairman Cr Andrew Turner said he strongly supported giving the trust the money.

 - The Press

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