Methodist Church (Former)
64 Fox Street And Fitzherbert Street, Featherston
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
23rd June 1983
South Wairarapa District
Lot 1 DP 70852 (CT WN38D/337), Wellington Land District
Built in 1881, the former Methodist Church in Fox Street, Featherston, was the second Methodist Church built in the township.
In the 1850s, when Pakeha began to settle in the Wairarapa region, Methodists were among the first settlers. Initially, the Wairarapa pulpits were supplied with local preachers, whose work was supplemented by quarterly visits of ministers from Wellington. Approval for a minister for the Wairarapa was granted in 1857 and, in 1859, the Reverend R. L. Vickers took charge of the region's Methodist congregations. However, Vickers, described as an 'earnest and energetic preacher', was based in Wellington; the Wairarapa congregations failed to provide him with the necessary financial support and the post was abandoned. Despite this, Methodist churches were constructed in Masterton (1862) and Greytown.
In 1867 the Reverend J. S. Rishworth was appointed to the Wairarapa circuit. Rishworth was based in Greytown, and inspired a revival of Methodism in the area. Greytown became an independent circuit the following year. On 24 June 1868 it was reported that Carterton, which was part of the new Greytown circuit, had five Methodists resident and two years later a small church was constructed for these worshippers. Around the late 1870s and 1880s, the original Methodist churches in the Wairarapa were being replaced, and new ones were constructed in outlying settlements. The church in Masterton, for instance, was replaced in 1878, and the Greytown church was supplemented in 1880. Churches were also built for the first time in places such as Mauriceville North(1880) and Eketahuna.
In Featherston, Methodist church services were held in the schoolroom in Tauherenikau until a small church was constructed on town section 249, on the corner of Fox and Fitzherbert Streets. The section also contained a blacksmiths and a wheelwright's shop. Built for 370 pounds, the structure was destroyed by fire on 25 January 1881. A replacement church was constructed in seven months and was opened by the Reverend J. Dukes. Morley notes that the church was 'built in Italian style, to avoid giving hold to the gentle zephyrs occasionally felt there'. The new church was built from timber with a corrugated iron roof and was capable of seating approximately 150 people.
In the early twentieth century, minor changes were made to the Church and surrounding section. In 1908 a small vestry was built onto the church and in 1917 a cottage was constructed behind the church. The cottage, which was removed in 1935, had accommodated the army chaplain that administered the troops stationed at Featherston during the First World War. In 1919 the former blacksmith and wheelwright shops were demolished.
In 1925, the same year Featherston was made a separate circuit, the Church acquired the former Salvation Army Institute Hall in Fitzherbert Street. This building was used as a hall and residence (initially occupied by circuit supervisor Mr. A. Beeson) until it was converted into a clothing factory in 1946. No other major changes occurred until 1943 when the interior of the church building was lined with pinex. Double doors were added to the front porch in 1953 and in 1955 the vestry was enlarged and opened as a Lounge and Sunday School Room.
By the 1960s, changes were brewing. Dwindling Methodist congregations were merging throughout New Zealand with Presbyterian congregations, and pooling their resources to form new union churches. Overtures were made by the Church to the nearby St Andrew's Presbyterian Church. The Presbyterian Session was in favour of a union and a decision was made to relocate the former St Andrew's Church, which was constructed in 1900, next to the Methodist Church. The Church was renamed 'St Andrew's Union Church, while the original Methodist Church became the new Sunday School and church hall. The church hall is in need of maintenance and its future is now uncertain.
18th May 2006
Report Written By
C. Carle, Gateway to the Wairarapa, Masterton, 1957
Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1897
Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol.1, Wellington, 1897
M. Greathead, Greytown Glimpses 1857-1967, Greytown, 1967
D. Kernohan, Wairarapa Buildings: Two centuries of New Zealand architecture, Wairarapa Archive, Masterton, 2003
Rev. William Morley, The History of Methodism in New Zealand, Wellington, 1900
A fully referenced Registration Report is available from the NZHPT Central Region office
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.