by PETER GRACE
St Mary of the Angels is spending more than $3 million on the first stage of earthquake strengthening the category 1 historic heritage building.
Parish priest Fr Barry Scannell, SM, said the whole project would cost $9.3 million.
Stage 1, he said, would complete work on the foundations and ground anchors, a couple of shear walls (walls with steel reinforcing) and some interior work.
The length of the whole project, Fr Scannell said, would depend on how long it took to raise the remaining $6.2 million that would be needed.“Both stages have to be completed before the church can be used again,” he told NZ Catholic.
A 6.5 magnitude earthquake in 2013 forced the church to close after it was found to be between 15 and 20 per cent of new building standards. Any building below 33 per cent is regarded as at risk
of failure in an earthquake.
Site manger Matt Pattinson told the Dominion Post that the project had thrown up some unique challenges, such as dealing with 100-year-old plans.
“It’s a pretty special building, really,” he said.
“Its got a great vibe, its been used as a place of worship for 100 years now, it’s a great place of community, it’s a very special building with a lot of cultural heritage and a lot of heritage value. So it’s a privilege to work on this building.”
Fr Scannell said construction of the church, designed by Frederick de Jersey Clere, began in 1919 and was completed in 1922.
St Mary of the Angels is believed to have been the world’s first church made of reinforced concrete.