View 10 images
28 Bealey Avenue, Christchurch (Corner of Bealey Avenue and Victoria Street)
The Presbyterian Church of New Zealand
Registered with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust as a Category II Historic Place (Register Number 3723) Listed on the Christchurch City Council City Plan as Group 1
Insurance Shortfall - $314,330.00
WHY KNOX CHURCH MATTERS
Knox Church has served as a centre of Presbyterian worship and community in central Christchurch for over 130 years. With the loss of St Paul's Trinity Pacific Church, it has become the sole Presbyterian Church within the four avenues. Although Canterbury was an Anglican formulation, Presbyterians have always played a significant role in the development of the province – from the Deans family onwards. Knox Church's congregation would like to preserve what remains of their church building for the future.
The church occupies a very prominent site at the eastern corner of Victoria Street and Bealey Avenue, and is consequently a city landmark. In the period in which the present building was built, Bealey Avenue was one of the city's most prestigious addresses, lined with the large homes of Christchurch's leading citizens. Victoria Street, then as now, was the major entry into the central city from the north. With the damage wrought by the recent quakes, much of the original context of Knox Church has been lost. This makes the retention of the church building itself central to the re-creation of the identity of the area, providing some continuity between past and future.
The Knox Church building was the work of prominent Christchurch architect R W England of the firm of England Bros. At its dedication service in 1902, the red-brick and Oamaru stone Gothic Revival church was described as 'the prettiest in Christchurch'. Although its walls have been deconstructed, the distinctive triple-gabled form of the roof remains. England Brothers designed a number of churches throughout the city around the turn of the nineteenth century, one similar example being the former St Albans Methodist Church to the north on Papanui Road. Christchurch's churches have suffered a heavy toll in the last two years, and much of our finest church architecture has been lost. Knox Church could however live again.
Which aspects of the building will benefit from the money fundraised?
The existing footprint of the building and the timber 'heart' of the building (the pillars, roof structure and wall panelling) will be retained. A new seismically resilient 'envelope' consisting of a post-tensioned reinforced concrete and contemporary lightweight exterior cladding will enclose the timber 'heart'.
The 450-500 seat Church will be a multi-use space which will be available to all of the Christchurch community.
1880: new Presbyterian congregation formed in northern central Christchurch; North Belt (Bealey Avenue) site purchased and first church built.
1883: second incumbent, Rev. Robert Erwin begins his thirty-nine year ministry. Erwin was later elected third Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand.
1901: population growth in the area necessitates a larger church. The foundation stone for a new building, designed by architect R W England, is laid by the mayor A E G Rhodes.
1902: new church dedicated; old church becomes hall.
1904: name changed from North Belt Church to Knox Church. 1963: original church building demolished and replaced with new hall.
2010: church building sustains damage in September quake.
2011: church building suffers serious damage in February quake. Brick walls subsequently deconstructed, leaving free-standing roof structure.
2012: New design preserviing the wooden heart of the church is announced. Architects - Wilkie + Bruce.