St Luke's Church (Presbyterian)

128‐130 Remuera Road, Remuera, Auckland

  • St Luke's Church (Presbyterian), Remuera. Image courtesy of https://jontynz.com/2017/02/15/auckland-churches/.
    Copyright: Jonty Crane. Taken By: Jonty Crane. Date: 15/02/2017.
  • St Luke's Church (Presbyterian), Remuera. Image courtesy of https://jontynz.com/2017/02/15/auckland-churches/.
    Copyright: Jonty Crane. Taken By: Jonty Crane. Date: 15/02/2017.
  • St Luke's Church (Presbyterian), Remuera. Interior - Image courtesy of www.jpro.co.nz.
    Copyright: Jpro Audio by Design. Date: 15/08/2014.
  • St Luke's Church (Presbyterian), Remuera. Interior - Image courtesy of www.jpro.co.nz.
    Copyright: Jpro Audio by Design. Date: 15/08/2014.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 647 Date Entered 26th November 1981

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 124457 (CT NA72C/754), North Auckland Land District and the buildings and structures known as St Luke’s Church (Presbyterian) thereon.

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)

Region

Auckland Council

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 124457 (CT NA72C/754), North Auckland Land District

Summaryopen/close

Built in 1931-2, and later described as one of the best churches in the Dominion, the Presbyterian church of St Luke sits between Remuera Road and Beatrice Road, Remuera. A close copy of a church of Twecher, near Glasgow, it is architecturally significant as a continuation of the Scottish Gothic vernacular tradition. The church has historical significance as the only 1931 construction in Auckland to cost over £10,000, providing work for depression-struck building industry workers. It also has notable connections with a nationally significant figure, the building magnate Sir James Fletcher, who commissioned the design; erected the church through his company Fletcher Construction; and was a member of the congregation along with his brother and business partner, William Fletcher. It additionally forms part of a place that has spiritual and social significance as a long-term site of worship and gathering for Remuera’s Presbyterian community, the current building having succeeded an earlier Presbyterian church on the property that was in use from 1875. The current church forms part of a complex of contiguous ecclesiastical buildings on the site, some of which evidently pre-date the 1931-2 structure.

Prior to 1875, Presbyterians of the district worshiped in a hall on the Manukau Road, in Newmarket. The development of Remuera as a suburb in the latter decades of the nineteenth century saw this facility outgrown and an alternative site sought. In early 1875, members of the Presbyterian congregation purchased land on Remuera Road. The old timber Congregational church, dating to 1865, was purchased and moved from its site on Orakei Road to the present site at a cost of £1465. It was opened on 16 May 1875. In 1928, it was decided to build a new church at an estimated cost of £15,000. The onset of the Depression delayed construction, and would have postponed the start of building further had it not been for a loan of £5,000 by William and James Fletcher, the eventual contractors. In the 1930s, Fletchers’ was one of the largest construction companies in New Zealand, responsible for erecting many notable buildings, including the Dominion Museum (1934) and Wellington’s railway station (1937). In Auckland, the company had also just competed building the Civic Theatre (1929).

The foundation stone of the new church was laid in November 1931, with the roof laid by February 1932. The structure was erected as a memorial to one of the first elders of the church, J.Y. Stevenson, an early Auckland businessman and son-in-law of the first Mayor of Auckland Borough, Archibald Clark.

The church was opened by the Governor-General, Lord Bledisloe on 7 July 1932. The design had been supplied by William and John Fletcher, the contractors, from plans of their childhood parish church (built in 1902) in the mining village of Twecher, near Glasgow. The initial design by Glasgow-based Alec Davidson was probably adapted by Fletchers’ in-house architect, F.D. Stewart, although L. V. Moses was the supervising architect for the project. The building was of concrete, faced with Putaruru stone; however, for reasons of economy and earthquake resistance the decorated parapets and pinnacles of the Twecher church were eliminated. The new church had a square tower and two fine stained glass windows, each with three lancets. One of the windows, above the pulpit, had been salvaged from the old church. The interior walls were plastered and scored to resemble ashlar blocks. The 1880s pipe organ from the old church had been salvaged and was reinstalled in the new building.

The structure of St Luke’s church has changed little since 1932. Renovations to the interior were undertaken in 1998. Minor alterations involved the conversion of the eastern transept into an entrance gallery and the repositioning of the pulpit, font and communion table. An exterior copper canopy was constructed over the eastern doorway.

As of 2015, St Luke’s church along with its attached community centre, kindergarten and manse still serves the Presbyterian community of Remuera.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Stewart, Francis Drummond

Stewart was born at Southland and educated at Otago Boys' High School, the University of Otago and Auckland University College.

He worked initially for H McDowell Smith in Dunedin and from 1926 to 1936 he was staff architect to Fletcher Construction Company. During this time he was responsible for the Station Hotel, Auckland, Brandon House, Wellington (1931), Nimmo's Building, Wellington (1929), and in conjunction with Herbert Hall of Timaru he designed the Chateau Tongariro (1928).

He joined the Housing Department (later incorporated into the Ministry of Works) in 1937 and held various senior positions over the years. He was appointed Assistant Government Architect in 1952 and represented the Ministry and the Architectural Division at meetings of the Cabinet Works Committee. He held this position until his retirement in 1968.

Stewart was admitted as an Associate of the New Zealand Institute of Architects in 1936, and was elected a Fellow in 1958.

L. V. Moses

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Alec Davidson

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1931 - 1932

Modification
1998 -
Conversion of the eastern Transept into an entrance hall and the erection of a copper canopy at the exterior entrance.

Completion Date

5th June 2015

Report Written By

Andrew Winter

Information Sources

Auckland Star

Auckland Star

Auckland Star, 30 November 1931, p. 5; 7 July 1932, p. 3.

New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald, 12 July 1932, p. 6; 28 September 1933, p. 6.

New Zealand Herald, 8 February 1932, p. 6; 20 June 1932, p. 6.

Shaw, 2009

P. Shaw, Pride of Place: A history of the Fletcher Construction Company, Auckland, 2009

Parker, Selwyn James

Parker, Selwyn James, 'Fletcher, James', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 24-Sep-2013

Smith, 2009

Smith, Jack, A History of Fletcher Construction, Vol.1: 1919-1940, Wellington, 2009.

Other Information

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Northern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand