Erskine Chapel, Island Bay, Wellington

Grant Type: 
Upgrade Works Grant
Date funded: 
September 2018

The chapel has exceptional architectural, historical and social significance and as such, is listed as a Heritage New Zealand Category 1 Historic Place and recognised in the Wellington City Council Heritage List, while the entire site is subject to a Heritage Order in the council’s district plan.

The chapel sits on the site of the former Erskine College in Island Bay, Wellington. It was designed by John Sydney Swan, one of Wellington’s most important architects of the early twentieth century.

Swan was invited to design the chapel in the 1920s, after originally designing the school’s main block some twenty years earlier. The chapel was constructed using unreinforced brick masonry walls, timber, steel and concrete, during 1929-30. The result is considered New Zealand’s finest French Gothic-style chapel, with a soaring vaulted ceiling, interior of Italian Carrara marble and exceptional acoustics – it is a light and airy space of undeniable beauty.

This upgrade project will see strengthening work take place to raise the building's structural rating to 67% NBS, including strengthening unreinforced masonry buttresses with steel, tying back other unreinforced masonry, strengthening gable end walls with steel rods and installing new steel diaphragms. 

Once earthquake-strengthening works are completed, the building will be refurbished and return to use as a function centre and facility for the community to use.

The project has also received funding of $75,000 from Heritage New Zealand.

Building listing - Wellington City Council heritage inventory

New Zealand Heritage List entry – Heritage New Zealand website