St John's Church (Presbyterian)
166-176 Willis Street, Wellington
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 1
Private/No Public Access
18th March 1982
Lot 1 DP 72762
This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. The following text is the original citation considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.
Dating from 11 December 1885 this fine large wooden church designed by Thomas Turnbull is in the Gothic style. It has a stately spire which enhances the visual emphasis of the church on its elevated corner site.
The interior is noteworthy for the large gallery which returns along both sides being supported on splendid columns. The very fine organ located behind the central pulpit becomes a focal point.
As a piece of townscape St John's Church can be visually related to St Peter's a few hundred metres along Willis Street. However, it stands on its own merits as an eccliastical building of considerable importance.
Thomas Turnbull (1824-1907) was born and educated in Scotland and trained under David Bryce, Her Majesty's Architect. He travelled to Melbourne in 1851 and after nine years there moved to San Francisco. He arrived in New Zealand in 1871 and soon established a thriving business. His son William, a distinguished architect in his own right, became a partner in the firm in 1891.
Turnbull was a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He was a pioneer in the design of buildings to withstand earthquakes and he was responsible for breaking down prejudice against the use of permanent materials for building construction. He specialised in masonry construction for commercial purposes but was also responsible for some fine houses.
Among his most important buildings were the Willis Street churches of St Peter (1879) and St John (1885), the former National Mutual Building (1883-84), the General Assembly Library (1899) and the former Bank of New Zealand Head Office (1901), all in Wellington.
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.