House features wood from church inferno

By Sonya Bateson

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Shereen Bell (pictured) and husband Tim are selling Treehaven, the home built using wood salvaged from the historic St George's Anglican Church Gate Pa. Photo / Andrew Warner
Shereen Bell (pictured) and husband Tim are selling Treehaven, the home built using wood salvaged from the historic St George's Anglican Church Gate Pa. Photo / Andrew Warner

A beautiful home built using wood salvaged from a historic Gate Pa church is for sale.

The home was built on a Papamoa Beach Rd section in 1997 using recycled materials, including timber from the remains of St George's Anglican Church Gate Pa. The church was built in the early 1900s and was destroyed by a fire in 1992.

Shereen and Tim Bell bought the house in 2003 after falling in love with it at first sight.

"We were on a little Sunday drive and there was an open home sign, so we walked up the drive," Mrs Bell said.

"The first thing we said when we saw the house was 'wow' and we just fell in love with it.

"We bought it as a rental and we've enjoyed many good tenants over the past 10 years but we've decided it's time for a new owner."

There were a number of features which made the house unique, Mrs Bell said.

Exposed beam ceilings, shelving and wardrobes, windowsills, cabinetry and huge double carved kauri entrance doors have all been treated naturally with oils that scent the entire house.

The kauri front doors feature cabbage tree carvings by well known Tauranga sculptor Roger Bullot. Wrought iron railings on the stairs were made by Hawke's Bay sculptor Ricks Terstappen.

The house is listed for sale at $459,000.

Reverend Joyce Crawford was the canon of St George's at the time of the fire and said she was pleased with the way the salvaged wood had been used.

She said she had been at a meeting in Napier when the church caught fire and had to drive back to the shell of the building the next morning.

"The fire happened about midnight, they had woken my husband up.

"I was in touch with the people on site so I was prepared for what I would see, but I wasn't prepared for the smell or the feel of the air.

"Everyone rallied around wonderfully, the whole parish were so supportive of me and of each other."

Services were held in the church hall for a number of months afterwards.

Rev Crawford said it was eventually decided to put the ruined building to tender.

"The gentleman and his family who won worked together amazingly, they took tremendous care of each piece of wood as they took it out.

"There was an elderly woman who was there helping out by taking nails out and helping pick out which pieces were worth recycling.

"They did it so carefully, it was just wonderful to see and made it easier for us to watch."

The salvaged materials were used in Treehaven and when the building was complete, the builder invited Rev Crawford and other church members to see the finished product.

"It was wonderful to see how it came to life.

"One thing I remember in particular, I recognised the little bathroom window, I think it came from our flower room where the service flowers were prepared."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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