They thought they were building for eternity but the Temple View community will watch as the Mormon Church puts the wrecking ball through several of the now defunct Church College buildings to make way for a new community centre.
The boys' dormitories, the medical centre and 10 teachers' homes will go after the Hamilton City Council granted resource consent to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Trust Board.
Consent was granted this month following a four-day hearing in early December which considered 880 submissions.
The consent allows for the construction of a stake centre which will serve as a meeting house with an associated car park, the construction of a new internal access road, upgrading of Tuhikaramea Rd - including removal and replacement of existing street trees - and the development of Legacy Park for recreational use.
The chairman of hearings commissioners, Doug Arcus, said he was impressed and touched by the degree of passion, commitment and emotion that many of the submitters brought to the hearing.
"We were faced with a series of heart-felt personal testimonies. Not once, but several times during the presentation by submitters, we felt obliged to pause the proceedings whilst a submitter speaking regathered their composure."
Mr Arcus said it did not help that the motto of the Church College of New Zealand was "Build for Eternity".
"Some submitters considered it highly inappropriate that some of what was intended for eternity was now proposed to be demolished."
The Temple View Heritage Society, which opposed the application, is meeting tonight to discuss the way forward. While secretary Nicola Hamon did not return a Waikato Times call, architectural historian and heritage consultant Dr Ann McEwan said an appeal to the Environment Court would be discussed.
Dr McEwan described the council's decision as "disappointing but not surprising".
"Of all the resource consent applications received in New Zealand, something like 95 per cent are granted," she said.
"If you take away some of these auxiliary buildings, you can't say the iconic heritage buildings are the same without them."
Fellow society member Hamilton architect Andrew Bydder said he was glad the main David O McKay building, named for a former church president, would not be demolished.
"It's got heritage status and is subject to another application," Mr Bydder said.
"I don't see [what's been granted] as a major, although the stake centre could be built in a different position to avoid all the demolition proposed."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is displaying plans for nearly 100 homes on the site on its website.
Pacific area director of public affairs Richard Hunter said: "The church has not submitted any other resource consent applications but plans to do so in the coming months. Details are still being worked out." firstname.lastname@example.org