1885: St James hall, Mt Eden
December 22, 2018
Poor old St James hall (1885) in Mt Eden, Auckland, is now set for demolition again. Blocked by the Environment Court, the smashing is on again due to an Appeal. The church (1900) and the hall are both wonderful to behold. This Classical and Gothic appreciation was inspiring and new back in its day. Through contemporary eyes we’re used to seeing these styles through a dilapidated, weird old-persons, haunted-house, Scooby-doo, Munsters, Adams Family lens.
Radio New Zealand has been helping alarm us that the old hall is a hazard to children and “It could collapse under simple gravity load.” That would be a really bad day for the closest neighbour I saw hanging out her washing a few inches away through an old broken fence.
I visited at Christmas last year. Here are some of the pictures…
The early New Zealanders who built these buildings must have been very proud. It would have been like Green Lantern’s lantern to live and work around here and to worship and meet and celebrate and wed at a place like this. A real slice of The West. Yet for the last 50 years it has been turned over to the Cook Islands congregation which has coincided with its deterioration.
It’s a valuable site and the Islanders are reluctant but willing to demolish one or both buildings to cash in but The State wont let them. So now we get this very uneconomic and unsatisfactory Red Tape Stalemate Stand-off. The buildings decay where they stand, perhaps risking the lives of school children [Ed. Doubt it. I think this is the Estate Agent’s fairytale story so they can smash, thus complete the sale.]
Possible solutions traditionally and recently employed might involve putting up some homeless arsonist to move things along, or hitting the building with some well-placed kamakazi council trucks. For a large, concrete, immovable, incombustible, object that’s a bit of a stumper though isn’t it?
Image ref. Me, December 2017
Even better pictures at Haunted Auckland (2015)