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Former Trinity Congregational Church
Estimated $500,000.00 (figure to be confirmed)
124 Worcester Street, Christchurch (Corner of Worcester and Manchester Streets)
The Save the Octagon Trust Pty Limited
Registered with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust as a Category I Historic Place (Register Number 306) Listed on the Christchurch City Council City Plan as Group 1
Insurance Shortfall - Estimated $500,000.00 (figure to be confirmed)
WHY THE FORMER TRINITY CONGREGATION CHURCH MATTERS
The former Trinity Congregational Church has had several uses and has served the community well over its 137 year history.
It was built for Congregationalist worship but by 1969 the congregation combined with the Presbyterian Church of St Paul's. During the 1960s the church was also home to the Pacific Islanders' Congregational Church. With its sale in 1973 it became a Centre for Performing Arts and is fondly remembered by thousands of young Christchurch musicians who sat their Trinity music exams in the building. In 1993 the building was purchased by the Slade family and it was used as a wedding chapel. The chapel was favoured by Japanese couples as a place of marriage and its attraction contributed to the 'Japanese tourist boom'. In 2006 Trinity, with its wonderful acoustics became home to the Octagon Live restaurant and music venue.
The Gothic Revival church Mountfort designed for the Trinity Congregational Church was his first stone church built in Canterbury. Mountfort had earlier designed a number of churches in stone, but congregations had not had the funds to have them built. Mountfort's design reflected the demands of the Congregationalists by providing a central space with a gallery at the rear, which ensured all members of the congregation could see the minister. The church was cruciform in plan with very short transepts which made the central space octagonal in shape. Mountfort's ceiling for this space is a double-barrel vault panelled in timber which has been described as 'one of Mountfort's most impressive and original inventions'. (Lochhead, 1999; 198) The exterior of the church is stone with a striking asymmetrical composition dominated by the tower on the corner of Worcester and Manchester Streets.
This important Mountfort building stands in an area which has the potential to be a unique precinct in Christchurch's heart. Although there are now barren blocks to the east, north and south of Trinity, the section of Worcester Street between the Square and Manchester Street will be graced with the former Government Building, hopefully the former Cecil Wood designed State Insurance Building, the former Trinity Congregational and in a the heritage facades of the Bus Stop arcade.
Which aspects of the building will benefit from the money fundraised?
The fact that the magnificent timber interior of the building has survived the earthquakes is due to earthquake strengthening carried out by the State Insurance Company in 1975.
Today the former Trinity Congregational Church stands with a perfectly intact timber interior but with a severely damaged stone wall exterior.
The original stone from the walls will be carefully deconstructed and individual stones will be cut-down and reused as a lightweight exterior cladding. The reconstructed exterior will accurately replicate the historic façade. The timber interior will be entirely retained in its original form.
1873: The pre-eminent Christchurch architect, Benjamin Mountfort, was awarded the commission to design the church. On the 6th November the foundation stone was laid by Superintendent William Rolleston.
1874: The church was built in a Gothic Revival Style.
1875: The church was opened on 17 January.
1913: the church hall and schoolroom was built (demolished due to earthquake damage)
1960s: The Christchurch community of the Pacific Islanders' Congregational Church began to hold their services at this church.
1968: The Pakeha and Pacific Island congregations were formally combined to become the Trinity-Pacific Congregational Church.
1969: The church combined with the Presbyterian church of St Paul's to become St Paul's-Trinity-Pacific Presbyterian Church and the parish relocated to St Paul's Church in Cashel Street (demolished as a result of the earthquakes)
1973: The church was put up for sale.
1974: After much public debate over its fate the State Insurance Company ultimately purchased the church.
1975: The building was earthquake strengthened and became the State Trinity Theatre (a community performing arts centre).
1993: The building was purchased by the Slade family - it was used as a wedding chapel.
2006: The Slade family decided to take advantage of the building's wonderful acoustics to launch the Octagon Live music venue and restaurant.
2010/2011: The stone exterior suffered moderate/severe damage as a result of the earthquakes.