News, Events and Culture

407-409 Church Street - First Church of Christ Scientist

First -Church -of -Christ -Scie

Building Details

Building name: First Church of Christ Scientist
Address: 407-409 Church Street
Construction date: 1933
Architect: LG West and Son & FN Hornibrook
Architectural style: Inter-war Classical
District Plan Category: 2
Building number: 36
Heritage NZ Category: Nil


Little is known of the history of the First Church of Christ Scientist.  This building was erected two years after the church was established in Palmerston North In 1931.


The street elevation of the building uses the inter-war Classical style with the largely academic use Classical elements.  The elevation is symmetrical with pilasters, cornice, parapet and a semicircular colonnaded entrance with Tuscan columns.  The side elevations are largely unadorned, emphasising the prominent façade.


Ludolph Georg West (1846-1919) was born in Denmark and arrived in New Zealand in 1868. He quickly went to the North Island and settled in Palmerston North. He married the daughter of a Johnsonville settler called Bannister.  His first wife died in 1891 and he remarried in 1894. It was some years before West set up in practice as an architect but, in conjunction with his son Ernst Vilhem, he was responsible for a large number of Palmerston North's buildings. Among those still standing designed by the practice are the Former Club Hotel (1905), the Manawatu-Kilwinning Masonic Lodge (1908), the Old Soldiers Club (1917), the Church of Christ Scientist (1931), Ward Brothers Building (1935). George West (he Anglicised his name) was Mayor from 1886-87, a borough Councillor and a prominent freemason. His son Ernst was a borough Councillor 1921-25.

Francis Norcott Hornibrook (1895-1968) was born in Rerrin, Ireland and came to New Zealand in 1912. With the advent of World War I he became a guard on Somes Island and then joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. After the war he studied architecture and was admitted to the RBIA and NZIA. He was in private practice in Tauranga, Napier and Gisborne. He fought again in World War II before joining the staff of the Railways Department. He spent 16 years as senior architect before retiring.

Summary of Heritage Values

The building has obvious spiritual and religious values.

The building is associated with past church members and leaders.

The building uses an easily recognisable Classical style which contributes to the urban design of Church Street

The exterior of the building is authentic, and because of its design is a landmark building in Church Street.

The building has functional and social values.

Statement of Significance

This church has been the centre of worship for the Palmerston North Church of Christ Scientist virtually since its establishment in the city. The significance of this building is its contribution to the streetscape of Church Street in its facade style, scale, materials, and building location on the site.

Building Permit Plans, PNCC (Microfilm file), 115/383-387
Biographies Index, ATL
GC Petersen, 1973, Palmerston North - A Centennial History. AH & AW Reed, Wellington