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384-390 Church Street - St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church

Saint -Andrew 's -in -the -City

Building Details

Building Name: St Andrew's Presbyterian Church
Address: 384-390 Church Street
Construction date: 1955
Architect: Gray Young, Morton and Young
Architectural style: Anthropomorphic Georgian
District Plan Category: 1
Building number: 21
Heritage NZ Category: Nil


The first Presbyterian Church was built in 1878 on land in Church Street acquired in 1872 for that purpose. The Presbyterian community was in those days guided by the Rev James Duncan, based in Foxton. The first church was in due course replaced by the much larger, and first, St Andrew's in 1893. A timber Gothic structure, it was, by 1942, considered too small and costly to upkeep and plans were begun to replace it. The present building was begun in 1955, to designs by Wellington architectural firm Gray Young, Morton and Young, which had had a long professional association with the Presbyterian Church. The new church was expected to cost over £46,000 to build and was not completed until 1957. The contractor was EW Burson. It has been little changed since then apart from minor alterations in 1966 and 1976.


The building has a Scandinavian influence in strong building and tower forms and the splayed roof.  The tower combines a typical Georgian semi-circular mall paned window and Baroque sill detail. These elements are arranged in an interesting anthropomorphic manner. The plan is symmetrical with offices either side of the main entrance leading into the nave and chancel. The large membered roof trusses are exposed.


William Gray Young was born in Oamaru. When he was a child his family moved to Wellington where he was educated. After leaving school he was articled to the Wellington architectural firm of Chrichton and McKay. In 1906 he won a competition for the design of Knox College, Dunedin, and shortly after this he commenced practice on his own account.  He became a prominent New Zealand architect and during a career of 60 years he designed over 500 buildings. His major buildings include the Wellington and Christchurch Railway Stations (1936 and 1954 Respectively), Scot's College (1919), Phoenix Assurance Building (1930) and the AMP Chambers (1950).  At Victoria University College of Wellington he was responsible for the Stout (1930), Kirk (1938), and Easterfield (1957) buildings, and Weir House (1930), Gray Young also achieved recognition for his domestic work such as the Elliott house, Wellington (1913).  His design or the Wellesley Club (1925) earned him the Gold Medal of the New Zealand Institute of Architects in 1932.  His most successful period as an architect was the firm of Gray Young, Morton Young, which he established.  The firm continues to practice, as Calder Fowler Architects, to this day. Gray Young was elected a Fellow of the Institute in 1913, served on the executive committee from 1914-35 and was president of the firm 1935-36. He was also elected a Fellow for the Royal Institute of British Architects, and achieved prominence in public affairs.

Summary of Heritage Value

The building has obvious religious and spiritual values.

The church has long associations with the site, parishioners, clergy, and the architect for the building.

The building is a significant contribution to post war architecture, and is a major built form in the streetscape of Church Street.

The building style is a unique design, unlike other churches of the period, and has an authentic exterior and interior.

The building has functional, educational, and social values.

Statement of Significance

Saint Andrew's Presbyterian Church is not an especially old building but it occupies a site continuously associated with the Presbyterian Church since 1872. The church is also part of an important precinct of four buildings which have all had a long association with the Presbyterian Church. The building is a significant element in the Church Street streetscape because of its unique combination of scale, form, materials and style. The design of the building is rare for the period.

Building Permit Plans, PNCC (Microfilm file), 115/374-378
Building Permit Register, PNCC, Archives Series 4/13/1, granted 7/4/55
GC Petersen 1973, Palmerston North - A Centennial History, AH & AW Reed, Wellington
St Andrew's Presbyterian Church 1976, They Ventured - Who Follows?, St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Palmerslon North