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Work begins on church restoration

Scaffolding is up on a Wairarapa landmark as work begins to restore it to its former glory.

Greytown’s Sacred Heart Church on Main St is getting a much-needed makeover after being sold late last year.

New owners Jane and Wayne Gillingham have started the restoration project, which includes plans for a new roof, new wiring, and repainting. The scaffolding started going up late last week and finished mid-week.

The Hutt Valley couple bought the building on the corner of Main St and Kuratawhiti St after it had been on the market for almost a year.

“It needs a bit of love,” Jane Gillingham said.

Once work is finished, the building will be made available to local groups.

“We have a church group that’s keen to use it weekly for a service, and other religious organisations have also expressed interest.

“There’s lots of ideas out there,” Gillingham said, with one couple keen to use the church for their wedding.

“We just want to restore it and are then open to ideas about what people want to do with it.”

Designed by notable Wellington architect Thomas Turnbull, Sacred Heart opened on Christmas Day, 1880.

It’s been described as a humble colonial nave, featuring Gothic-style stained glass windows and a quatrefoil rose window accent. Three-corbelled brackets highlight the spire.

The Gillinghams plan to keep the restoration simple, maintaining the integrity of the original structure and function.

“We are excited about the renovation. We are restoring what is there to its former glory.”

The roof will be replaced first, with other work following.

“The new roof is expected to be on within two weeks,” Gillingham said.

Then the premises will be rewired with a paint job and minor repairs following.

“There’s a few holes that need to be fixed. It will be painted mostly white, with the roof a deep red colour.”

The outside will be painted first to take advantage of autumn weather, then the inside will be done.

The church pews have been removed and are in storage but will be returned once work is finished.

Replacements of some old kitchen appliances and a refresh of the bathroom facilities will complete the building upgrade, with landscaping work currently in the planning stage.

“We haven’t yet found a landscaper,” Gillingham said.

Work is expected to continue through the winter months.

As previously reported, South Wairarapa District Council has said the church comes under the Heritage Precinct in the district plan.

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