"Sinful, smashed to bits," said one man mourning the loss of two Parnell homes from the 1800s and early 1900s, after a digger moved on to the site beside Holy Trinity Cathedral this week to pull the places apart.

The Anglican Church said it needed the land to lease for townhouses so it can afford $300,000-plus annual upkeep on its other properties. But native timber weatherboards, windows, staircases, doors and other century-old fittings were reduced to rubble when a digger moved in.

Use our interactive tool below in the image to show before-and-after at one of the two sites: 1a Brighton Rd.

 The Anglican Church-owned homes are demolished. Photo/Dean Purcell
The Anglican Church-owned homes are demolished. Photo/Dean Purcell

"Shameful," wrote Gerard Murphy of the loss of the big old wooden house at 1a Brighton Rd and the neighbouring 9 St Stephens Ave.

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Drag your mouse or swipe your thumb below to see the change to the property.


"We are feeling blue," said local forum The Hobson on Facebook. "The two Anglican Church-owned houses on Brighton Rd and St Stephens Ave, Parnell, are no longer."

"We have such a disregard in New Zealand for heritage buildings it seems," wrote Caitlin Harsant, showing how one of the homes looked before this week's loss. "So sad."

The two homes, now both gone. Photo/Dean Purcell
The two homes, now both gone. Photo/Dean Purcell

However, the homes were not scheduled by Auckland Council nor Heritage New Zealand.

"The buildings are not listed as Historic Heritage Places under Schedule 14.1 of the Auckland Unitary Plan. There are notable trees on the site," said the council's assessment.

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Heritage fans decry Parnell demolition, church says it needs money

Julie Hill, co-chair of Parnell Heritage, said the homes had been left in such a state of neglect over the years that even before the digger arrived, "it's demolition by neglect".

"These two homes have played an important role in the early 20th-century history of the area. A lot of people have been in touch with us."

Parnell Heritage co-chair Julie Hill at 1a Brighton Rd, pre-demolition last week. Photo/Dean Purcell
Parnell Heritage co-chair Julie Hill at 1a Brighton Rd, pre-demolition last week. Photo/Dean Purcell

Asked last week if she had any complaints about the then-planned demolition, cathedral Dean Anne Mills said: "Absolutely none. Since we announced our plans to establish an endowment fund for Holy Trinity Cathedral to our parishioners and then the stakeholders on April 22, I have had no formal complaints nor criticism, either verbally or in writing."

9 St Stephens Ave vanishes fast as the digger climbs onto it. Photo/supplied
9 St Stephens Ave vanishes fast as the digger climbs onto it. Photo/supplied

Mills said relocation of the two big wooden homes had not proved an option due to their size and their structure. Moving them would have been "too expensive and as a result, the decision has been made to demolish the two buildings", she wrote in a newsletter last month.

9 St Stephens Ave before demolition. Photo/Dean Purcell
9 St Stephens Ave before demolition. Photo/Dean Purcell

Annual cathedral, grounds and associated building maintenance was $300,000-plus annually. That figure was predicted to rise.

Residents expressed sadness about the two homes' loss. Photo/supplied
Residents expressed sadness about the two homes' loss. Photo/supplied

So the two sites zoned for terraces and apartments under the Unitary Plan would be leased long-term to a developer for apartment development, Mills said.

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