Click to enlarge
Erskine College and grounds in Island Bay, Wellington.
Press Release – Historic Places Trust
A review of the historic and heritage significance of the Erskine College site in Wellington is being undertaken by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT).
Between 1906 and 1985 the Island Bay landmark was a Catholic boarding school for girls. Founded by the Society of the Sacred Heart, it was called The Convent of the Sacred Heart till the late 1960s when it was renamed Erskine College in honour of former Superior General of the Society Mother Janet Erskine Stuart.
The site has been owned by property developer Ian Cassels and his company Property Link (Developments) Ltd since 2000. Considerable refurbishment of the Chapel has resulted in it being used for a range of functions.
The NZHPT review proposes to combine the two individual registrations of the Erskine College Main Block (Category II historic place) and Chapel (Category I) into a new single registration that recognises the wider Erskine College site with all its buildings and setting.
The imposing four-storey Gothic brick and reinforced concrete main convent building was designed by noted architect John Sydney Swan and is the oldest surviving purpose-built secondary school building in Wellington.
NZHPT Central Region Heritage Advisor Blyss Wagstaff said Erskine College is held in high regard and with affection by the Catholic community, former pupils, Island Bay residents and heritage supporters. In 1992 the Save Erskine College Trust was formed to ensure the entire site was protected.
“The site is being considered for Category I registration on the National Register because of its special or outstanding historical or cultural heritage significance or value. By the time it closed in 1985 nearly 3000 girls had been educated at the college.
“The Erskine site is a rare physical testament to the work of the Society of the Sacred Heart in New Zealand, and is a place that many people feel a very strong connection to. It also contains outstanding examples of the architecture of John Sydney Swan, and the Chapel of the Sacred Heart is widely regarded as one of the finest Gothic chapel interiors in the country.”
NZHPT encourages people to send in letters of submission with comments on the contents of the report or the proposal for registration. NZHPT further hopes the Erskine College Main Block and Chapel remain listed on the Wellington City Council District Plan and that notable trees and a historic garden within the site are also considered for listing.
A copy of the Registration report is available online at www.historic.org.nz. Public submissions close on 24 June.