St. John's Uniting Church, Hall and Manse | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

St. John's Uniting Church, Hall and Manse

Item details

Name of item: St. John's Uniting Church, Hall and Manse
Other name/s: Knox Church, Wahroonga Presbyterian Church, St John’s Presbyterian Church, WPS, Wahroonga Preparatory School
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Location: Lat: -33.7152057836 Long: 151.1172010510
Primary address: 61-65 Coonanbarra Road, Wahroonga, NSW 2076
Local govt. area: Ku-Ring-Gai
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP177977
LOTB DP366178
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
61-65 Coonanbarra RoadWahroongaKu-Ring-Gai  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Uniting Church in Australia, TheReligious Organisation 

Statement of significance:

The Church and Hall complex of St John's Uniting Church, Wahroonga, is of state significance. Designed as a complete complex by the highly regarded architect John Shedden Adam they have retained a high degree of integrity. As a group, and individually, the buildings are of exceptional aesthetic significance. They are well proportioned, refined in detail and the work is well crafted. They are of high social significance for their continuing use as the local Uniting Church and represent the life both of the former Presbyterian church and now the religious life of the Uniting Church community in the area. The place is highly significant in the lives of Presbyterians and members of the Uniting Church in the local area. The site has been a focus for religious and social expression spanning more than 100 years. It has associations with the Gillespie family, of Fielders Gillespie flour mills, who were locally prominent philanthropists and founders of Knox Grammar School.
Date significance updated: 24 Apr 09
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: John Shedden Adam (of Sulman, Power and Adam)
Builder/Maker: 10/13 stained glass windows: Norman Carter
Construction years: 1929-1930
Physical description: The group consists of the church and two halls with ancillary rooms, toilets and connecting passages. These are arranged around a central courtyard with arcading forming the fourth side facing the street. The whole is constructed of high quality red face brickwork with darker brick and sandstone trim, under steeply pitched red marseilles patterned tiled roofs. The complex was designed as a whole and was built in stages during the 1920s.

The boundaries to the site are defined by rock face stone walls. Each entrance is marked by stone piers. The main entrance to the church complex retains its original light fitting set in the tops of these piers. The entrance path to the church office/vestry is defined by a steel arch over the path.

The Church
The church is an Inter-war Gothic building with a gable running north-south for the full length of the building. Hipped octagonal transepts project on the eastern and western sides. Entry is from the courtyard at the northern end. An octagonal stair turret, with copper spire, on the north west corner, leads up to the organ gallery above the entry. A square bell tower (minus bells) is located at the south-western corner of the building and dominates the view from the south, the main approach to the complex. Stone string courses and darker brick bands run around the building and stone copings cap the gables. The windows are set in stone tracery with stone heads and sills.

The entry is unusual with a pair of large sliding panelled doors opening the entry porch to the courtyard. A thistle is carved into the stone corbels supporting the lintel over the doors. A large rose window is an important element of this northern elevation. At the southern end of the church an arcaded brick porch links two vestries, which are located either side of the chancel. The church contains a very fine collection of high quality paired lancet stained glass windows, 11 of which are the work of Norman Carter (see images and a detailed description in the book St John's Wahroonga - the first 100 Years 1898-1998 Ed. David Wood).

The interior of the church is face brickwork with a panelled timber dado running around the walls below sill height. The ceiling is timber boarded with exposed rafters and is supported by hammerbeam trusses of an unusual and elaborate design. A deep carved timber cornice, featuring vine leaves, runs around the top of the walls above two rows of corbelled brickwork. The trusses are supported on projecting stone corbels. All the finishes are of a very high quality.

The timber floor slopes from the entry down toward the chancel, which is on raised platform, containing the Pulpit, Lectern and Communion table with chairs for the officers of the Church. All appear to be original. In the east transept are the choir stalls and organ console. The west transept contains a grand piano and fixed seating around the walls with one pew facing into the transept forming a division with the nave. The nave of the church is filled with benched pews (original) arranged with a central and side aisles. The organ is located in a gallery at the northern end of the church. This has been extended c1970s and is compatible with the design and finish of the church. The church is lit with large amber glazed lanterns (original), recently modified for halogen lights.

Little Hall
The Little Hall is a gabled building, also of Inter War Gothic design. The western wall facing Coonanbarra Road repeats themes from the church building in its detailing. It features stone bands, string courses and copings, together with dark brick bands, plinth and vertical panels, framing the whole. The northern and southern walls are buttressed, and where the arcading that links this building to the church meets the Little Hall, there is a stone capped gabled parapet. Other detailing on these elevations, however, including small paned timber casement windows, the bay window facing the courtyard, and the roof reaching down low over these windows, give the building a much more domestic scale and feel.

Internally the walls are plastered with timber picture rails and dado rails running around them. The ceiling of the hall is timber boarded with exposed rafters and timber trusses with iron bracing. The smaller rooms have flat plaster ceilings. The floor is timber. A tall narrow leadlight window features in the west wall of the hall.

Hall
The main hall links the church to the little hall on the eastern side of the courtyard by way of an arcaded verandah. The brick arches, with their darker brick headers, reflect those in the arcade on the western side of the courtyard. The hall is two storey in height and has a large hipped roof which sweeps down over the verandah to meet the roof of the Little Hall. Like the adjoining buildings, it also features two tone brickwork and buttresses to its side walls. The windows to the main space are large timber multi-paned double hung windows, while those to the smaller spaces are small paned casements matching those used in the Little Hall. The hall has a second well defined entrance at its northern end leading from the driveway into two offices. These are currently used by the preparatory school located behind the hall.

The hall has a full stage at its southern end. A c1950s? stair leads up to a storeroom above the offices at the northern end. The walls are plastered above a face brick dado. The ceiling is timber boarded with exposed rafters and timber roof trusses. Original ceiling vents are spaced between the trusses.

Courtyard
The courtyard is currently paved with a red pebblecrete and is open to the sky. There is a garden planted in the north-west corner. A grand flight of stairs lead up to the courtyard from Coonanbarra Road. These are flanked by low brick walls and original steel handrails. The church and Little Hall are set only one step above the courtyard level, whereas the main hall with its arcaded verandah is set several steps higher, reflecting the natural topography of the site.

Preparatory School
The Wahroonga Preparatory School, which is located to the east of the hall and church, is not part of this study.

Manse
The church site also includes a Manse which is a Federation style two storey house built in 1898.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is excellent.
Date condition updated:30 May 03
Modifications and dates: 1920s - two halls constructed
1929-1930 - Church constructed
1972 - organ loft built at the rear (north) end of the church (architects Laurie & Heath)
1994 - lighting upgraded (architect Gordon Fuller)
Current use: Churchyard
Former use: Aboriginal land, rural lot, timber-getting, Churchyard

History

Historical notes: Presbyterian Services had been held in Hornsby from 1893 and in 1896 the Rev James Marshall was appointed to the newly established Hornsby Pymble Parish. There being a number of Presbyterians living in Wahroonga they pressed for the establishment of their own parish rather than the planned Home Mission station.

In November 1897 the Rev. J. Kemp Bruce came to Wahroonga and was inducted as the first Minister in February 1898. He was followed in succession by the Rev's. C E James (1918-1926), D J Flockhart (1927-1956), R A Blackwood (1957-1969), A F Smart (1971-1995), R I Cirotto (1995-1997)

The first church building on the site was an Amusement Hall purchased for (Pounds)1000 in 1898 which was a brick building capable of holding 150 people. It came with an acre of land. It was known as the Wahroonga Presbyterian Hall. A manse was erected in 1899 largely funded by the gift of miller and philanthropist, John Gillespie of 1000 guineas.

In the 1920s (the exact date is not known) two church halls were built on the site. This allowed the original Amusement Hall to be demolished. The large hall was used for worship while the church was being built.

The Foundation Stone of the new church was laid by the then Governor of NSW, Sir Dudley de Chair in 1929 and the first service held therein on 26 April 1930.

The architect for this ensemble of church buildings was John Shedden Adam. He was also responsible for the design of a number of local buildings including St James's Anglican Church, Turramurra and the Knox Grammar School main building.

Of the 13 fine stained glass windows in the church 10 are the work of Norman Carter and are mostly memorials to the war dead of both World Wars. The others are by Henry W Hiscox, Bill Mahony & David Saunders.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Developing local, regional and national economies-National Theme 3
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Creating environments evocative of the 'old country'-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of institutions - productive and ornamental-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes and parklands of distinctive styles-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from rural to suburban-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Subdivision of rural estates-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 19th century suburban developments-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages A Picturesque Residential District-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Involvement with the Second World War-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Developing cultural institutions and ways of life-National Theme 8
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural styles and periods - Interwar Gothic revival-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Interior design styles and periods - Inter War-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - Federation period-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - 20th century interwar-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - 20th century post WW2-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Patronising artistic endeavours-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Developing collections of items-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Religious worship-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship church hall-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Church-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Providing halls and other community facilities-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Practising Presbyterianism-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Practising protestant unity-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Places of formal community gatherings-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Places of informal community gatherings-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Belonging to an institution for self improvement-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Fund-raising activities for community charities-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Governor Admiral Sir Dudley de Chair KCB, MVO, 1924-1930-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Rev. J. Kemp Bruce, Presbyterian Minister-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Norman Carter, stained glass artist-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Rev. D J Flockhart, Presbyterian Minister-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Rev. R.A. Blackwood, Presbyterian Minister-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Rev. A F Smart, Presbyterian Minister-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Rev. R.I. Cirotto, Uniting Church Minister-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with John Gillespie, miller and Presbyterian philanthropist-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Henry W Hiscox, stained glass artist-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Bill Mahony, stained glass artist-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with David Saunders, stained glass artist-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with John Shedden Adam, architect-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The church complex reflects the growth and wealth of the Presbyterian church on the Upper North Shore during the first half of the twentieth century.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Church and Halls were designed by the eminent local architect John Shedden Adam of Sulman, Power and Adam. Links with the Gillespie family, of Fielders Gillespie flour mills, who were locally prominent philanthropists and founders of Knox Grammar School.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The church complex, comprising church, two halls and ancillary facilities, is an excellent example of inter-war Gothic architecture and of exceptional aesthetic significance. The hierarchy of scale and detailing of the three buildings, and their arrangement around a central entrance court, is highly refined and the planning, detailing and workmanship shows a very high level of competency and quality of finish. The complex has undergone very little alteration since its construction, and the work that has been carried out is both sensitive and finely detailed. The church contains all its original fixtures, fittings and furnishings. It also contains an excellent collection of high quality twentieth century stained glass windows.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The place is highly significant in the lives of Presbyterians and members of the Uniting Church in the local area. The site has been a focus for religious and social expression spanning more than 100 years.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
St John's church complex is a rare and excellent example of a church complex, including halls and ancillary facilities, being designed and built as a whole, with the scale and detailing of the buildings clearly reflecting the hierarchy of spaces within.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
St John's is representative of the growth of the Presbyterian church on the North Shore during the first half of the twentieth century.
Integrity/Intactness: Exceptional
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Refer to the Interim Conservation Management Plan prepared by Design 5, 2003.

Recommendations

Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Recommended ManagementProduce a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) 
Recommended ManagementPrepare a maintenance schedule or guidelines 
Recommended ManagementCarry out interpretation, promotion and/or education 

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0167019 Sep 03 1459470
Heritage studyKu-Ring-Gai Heritage Studyitem 09:05920 Sep 87   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Ku-Ring-Gai Heritage Study198709:059Robert Moore, Penelope Pike & Helen ProudfootSB Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenDesign 5 Architects2003Interim Conservation Management Plan

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5049618
File number: S94/01472


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