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Church remains in the heart of Greytown

After nearly a year on the market, Greytown’s Sacred Heart Church has been sold, and its new owner wishes to restore the building to its former glory.

LJ Hooker listed the church at the start of this year, and agent David McHattie said they hadn’t thought it would spend this long on the market.

“It is a long time, but there were some issues around GST for a potential residential conversion, so that eliminated a few buyers,” McHattie said.

“We also had people who wanted to relocate it off the site, which wouldn’t have been – in my personal view – good for Greytown and the church as a whole.”

The church opened on Christmas Day, 1880 and McHattie believed it had been out of use for the past few years.

He said it sold for less than the listing price of $700,000.

“That figure was based on the church’s valuation in the height of the market a few years ago when the market was peaking.”

The new owners are Hutt Valley couple Jane and Wayne Gillingham, with Jane telling the Times-Age that the quirky nature of the listing piqued her initial interest.

“It’s quite a novel thing to have a church for sale.”

Unhappy at the trend of churches in the region closing or going up for sale, Gillingham said she and her family, who go to LifeSwitch Church in Silverstream, wanted to preserve the space.

“We think it should be used for community and church things again,” Gillingham said.

“We just think it’s sad to have God’s house on Greytown’s Main St looking run down, unused and all closed up.

“So we’d like church groups and other community groups to use it again once we have it back up and looking nice.”

There’s a fair bit to do including a new roof and carpet replacement, and Gillingham said she wasn’t sure yet of a timeline.

“I think we’ll tackle the new roof first, it needs a bit of a birthday all over really,” Gillingham said.

“A new paint job, a few repairs for broken windows and things and the moth-eaten carpet needs replacing.”

Gillingham said she had had a few conversations with local groups interested in using it and that she and her husband were also thinking about eventually renting it as a wedding chapel to help cover maintenance costs.

“It’s quite a cute church, and I’m hoping people might like to get married in it.”

The parish’s Wairarapa finance committee chair John Bunny said there had been significant interest in the church during its time on the market.

“We had a lot of offers which wanted to remove the building, so we didn’t accept those,” Bunny said.

“There was also interest in converting it into a retail space or housing, so those offers to change its land use never came to fruition either.

“We are happy that it’s been sold and that it will be retained in the community, refurbished and made available for the people of Greytown.”

Wishing to ensure the building would stay in Greytown, Bunny said it was great to find a buyer who wanted the same thing.

“It took time to find the right buyer; we’re happy that it’ll still be available for community use,” Bunny said.

“We’re very lucky they came along. It’s such a lovely building and deserves to be refurbished and brought back to life and looked after.”

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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