Thursday, April 25, 2024

Christchurch quake treasures to be reborn

A decade after being pulled from the earthquake rubble of Christchurch’s CBD, the huge front doors of St Paul’s Trinity Pacific church remain in storage.

They’re one of many fragments retrieved from buildings demolished after the earthquakes and now being offered to their previous owners.

Following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, Christchurch City Council staff negotiated with building owners, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and demolition contractors to recover materials from a number of significant heritage buildings about to be demolished.

These include The Press building in Cathedral Square, the Christchurch Railway Station on Moorhouse Avenue, the old Theatre Royal in Gloucester Street and the former Public Library on Cambridge Terrace.  

Stone, timber joinery and other building components were recovered for re-use on the original site, or for use in the repair and conservation of other heritage buildings. Ownership of the materials was transferred to the Council at that time.

The doors of St Paul’s Trinity Pacific church just prior to salvage.

Now, 10 years on from the earthquakes, the Council is keen to see these fragments find new homes and uses, to preserve the memories of the lost buildings for future generations.

Not all items can be put back into buildings but there are other ways people can use these artefacts, perhaps as interpretation, sculptures or pieces of art,” said Council Team Leader Heritage, Brendan Smyth.

Some of the fragments are large –  including the crest off the Press building. Others are smaller, and include doors, tiles, light fixtures and fire surrounds that have come from more modest buildings. 

“There’s also a lot of beautifully carved stonework from lost buildings which show the quality, passion and craftsmanship of our heritage, including medallions, porches, corbels and crests.”

“Our ancestors took pride in the architecture and details of our streetscapes,” says Mr Smyth. 

Previous owners of the buildings have until 31 August to reclaim any items.

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