Resurrection hope for church and hall

7:03 PM Tuesday September 19, 2017 Paul Charman

The interior of the Victorian-era Methodist church at Marton expresses the Methodist tradition of minimal decoration. Photo / Supplied

An historic church and hall in the Rangitikei town of Marton are ready for new lives.

Now for sale by negotiation, brokers say Marton’s former Methodist Church and Hall is likely to be purchased and converted for hospitality use.

Bayleys manager Karl Cameron says the buildings are town landmarks, locals having waited the last decade in hopes of seeing them receive a fresh role.

Cameron says the church was dedicated in 1872 and congregations flourished there into the mid-20th century.

However, in later years maintenance became increasingly onerous for dwindling congregations.

Final hymns were sung on Waitangi Day in 2005, with the church de-consecrated shortly thereafter.

Then in 2000, the grand old lady took the eye of an American on holiday — the celebrated Hollywood movie and television executive, Neal Zoromoski.

Zoromoski’s credits as head-of-props included the hit series Scrubs, Scandal, Criminal Minds, and the apocalyptic big-screen action film, The Day After Tomorrow.

He bought the church and hall after falling in love with Manawatu and Whanganui regions during a New Zealand holiday.

Zoromoski used the property as his “Kiwiana vacation destination” intending to fully renovate it as a DIY project. However, the project was never completed.

True Commercial - Marton Church - vertical image .jpg

The main building features original leadlight stained-glass windows along with tower and steeple. Photo / Supplied

“The main building features a high-stud barrel-vaulted wooden ceiling with rimu floorboards, kauri wood-panelled walls, almost a dozen rows of original seating pews, and original leadlight stained-glass windows. It comes complete with its own tower and steeple,” says Cameron.

“The smaller adjacent single-level church hall features cathedral-style wooden beam ceilings and similar kauri and rimu floorboards and walls, and even a small musical organ used to provide accompaniment to various hymn sessions. Both buildings are in their near-original conditions.”

Configuration of the two buildings — plus dual entry points from the main road — mean the property might potentially be developed as two separate entities.

True Commercial - Marton Church - interior 2.jpg

Extensive use of rimu and kauri has aided the longevity of the buildings. Photo / Supplied

“There’s the option of refurbishing one as a primary dwelling and the other as B&B style commercial accommodation venue, or perhaps developing both as a boutique religious-themed B&B,” he says. “Cliche or not, it’s true to say they just don’t make ’em like this anymore; while the buildings may have been dormant for a decade, they’ve proudly stood for almost 150 years.

“These buildings are now ready to receive new life and the current owner has given his blessing to continuing his vision of restoring them to former glory.”

Marton Methodist Church was designed by colonial architect, Frederick de Jersey Clere, who from the late 1800s until 1904 designed about 100 rural New Zealand churches. He was renowned for economical and unostentatious adaptation of the Gothic Revival style, often expressed by pointed arches, towers or belfries — exactly the style of Marton Methodist Church.

Among de Jersey Clere’s surviving creations are St John’s in Feilding, All Saints' in Palmerston North, St Mary's in Karori, St Matthew's in Hastings, St Mary of the Angels in Wellington, and St Andrew's in New Plymouth. He also designed Wellington's AMP building and two harbour board buildings on the city’s Queen's Wharf.