100-year-old Thames church for sale at discount for DIY-lovers

By Nikki Preston

The historic Puriri church on SH26 near Thames requires restoration and remedial work. Photo / Supplied
The historic Puriri church on SH26 near Thames requires restoration and remedial work. Photo / Supplied

A Waikato couple who saved a 103-year-old church from being bowled are willing to sell it to the right buyer for a discounted rate.

The 103-year-old church on the edge of the Hauraki Plains, about 10km from Thames and Paeroa, is going under the hammer, but those with plans to restore the gothic-style building will get a better price.

The quaint 100sq metre church on SH26 is on the market after sitting empty for almost three decades. The church was officially deconsecrated in 2012.

Waikato dairy farmers Max and Beverly Deane purchased the church in 2001 for $36,000 - the day before it was due to be demolished.

The neighbouring Puriri School had even planned a protest on the day it was to be knocked over.

"It's a little village called Puriri and without the church it is without the P."

Mr Deane said the plan had been for a consortium to be set up so the local community could contribute a few thousand dollars to help buy it, but when it came time to do this no one else stepped forward.

The church has a rateable value of $171,000.

The couple paid $35,000 for it and spent another $8000 on a new roof and $8000 on surveying, as well as rates which are currently $1648 a year.

However Mr Deane expected the sale price to be under the RV and said he and his wife were prepared to favour any buyer who planned to restore the heritage-protected building.

"We bought it to keep it and we didn't want it ever demolished... When it sells we are going to sell it with preference price-wise to someone who wants to do something with it.

"It's totally original. It's completely original. The only thing missing of it is the gas lamp at the front when it was opened.

"It's just got to the stage if someone can love it more... there's only been a guy who has stored carpet in it for the last 10 years but otherwise nothing. If we can get someone to take it on and do the project up that's what we would really like to see happen."

He said possible options were a gallery, a cafe, a display room or a residential dwelling.

The building is in need of some repairs to bring it up to the current earthquake standard and has cracks in the wall, but Bayleys marketing agent Lee Carter said the exact amount of work needed was still being determined.

The building was heritage-protected so there were some limitations in terms of what work could be done.

Carter said the structure would answer the prayers of DIY-ers looking to create a heritage home on a big, flat section. Alternatively another building could be constructed beside the church.

"The church is crammed with turn-of-the-last century aesthetics and design - from what looks like native rimu and matai floor boards, through to high, vaulted ceilings and leadlight windows," Carter said.

The Deanes are also throwing in an organ which was originally housed in the Methodist church in Thames.

The heritage-protected church has a chequered history as it started life as a Methodist church but later became a shared-use church with Presbyterians and Anglicans also using it.

In 1970 the Presbyterian services stopped, followed by the Methodists in 1971 and finally the Anglicans closed the doors on the building in 1973.

The Puriri community restored and reopened the church in 1988, but the cost of maintaining the native timber and concrete structure became too high and the community voted to close it in 2001, which was when the Deanes saved it.

The church is to be sold at auction on September 29 at Bayleys' Hamilton office.

- NZ Herald

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