Design worthy of worship


SIZE: Land 521sq m, house 297sq m.
PRICE INDICATION: Comparable homes have sold from $2.8 million to $3 million-plus.
INSPECT: Sat/Sun 3pm-3.30pm.
SCHOOL ZONES: Devonport Primary, Belmont Intermediate, Takapuna Grammar.
CONTACT: Ryan Dixon, Ray White, 027 632 3285
TENDER: Closes December 8, 4pm

If you’ve watched a lot of the TV show Grand Designs, you’ll be familiar with the church conversions beloved of the English.

Such de-commissioned places of worship are rare in New Zealand (Europe did have a bit of a head start with Christianity), which makes the stylish reworking of the former Salvation Army citadel on the edge of Devonport even more rare and special.

Penny and John Raine certainly thought so when they spotted the Dave Pearson Architects transformation of the Grade B listed historic building in 2010.

“We’d always loved Devonport and were finally able to move from Albany when John’s work moved to the city and he could take the ferry. We were looking for a contemporary house, and then found this. We do drive agents mad as we’d looked at over 100 places,” says Penny. “The previous owners had done all the work; it was contemporary and ready for us.

“People from the village stop us and tell us stories of their parents and grandparents coming here in the 1920s. The Sallies took a lot of people in; there were a lot of lives here.

“These buildings have seen tough times since they were built in 1909. I like to think of her enjoying grace and elegance in her retirement.”

The couple has certainly delivered grace in spades, adding to the careful honouring of the original space by the previous owners and their architect.


The main church building has a classic entry, a sweep of stairs from the street and gracious portico. The single garage is discreetly tucked to one side, with handy internal access (and cupboards revealing loads of storage under the main floor).

At the back of the property, across a sunny deck is the charming smaller cottage that was the Sunday school classroom. The Raines have converted it to guest accommodation, complete with its own luxury bathroom and a sweet ante-room for small visitors.


The conversion of the church has left the tall arched windows and high beamed ceilings in place across the reception rooms (as well as a huge fireplace), with a striking steel and glass staircase to the second level.

On the other side of the hall, a pair of bedrooms, and smart marble-ised tile bathrooms on the ground floor, along with the three bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs, have cleverly made the most of the tall windows: lower floor rooms have light boxes framing the full height of the arched joinery and these boxes form the storage vanities in the rooms above.

End windows on the upper floor bedrooms – one is a huge study for John, the sunnier northern one the master bedroom – frame views around Devonport, Ngataringa Bay and beyond.

Penny and John have deliberately left the layers of plaster and paint on the neighbouring walls, part of the history of the stables of the original bakery on the corner of Hastings Parade.

While Penny may credit earlier owners for the renovation, the couple have added their own touches, refinishing the white walls and dark stained old floors (she delights in the changes in timbers as evidence of the layers of the old rooms over time), installing central heating and adding storage, in bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen.

She has also re-landscaped, bringing in palms, arches of climbing jasmine and roses, a productive vegetable garden and clipped hedges to create rooms and vistas in the back and side gardens.

But it is the reception rooms that really make the most of the grand church proportions. Big enough to divide into several sitting zones, with dropped ceilings to created intimacy at the dining and kitchen end of the house, and glass doors that open to the back yard – they have grandeur and scale.

The kitchen island is a great spot for congregating, the walls of pantry and appliance benches slide across to disguise mess or open up for more work space. Penny has decorated the house with furniture and linen gathered on trips to France.

They are now spending a good part of each year in France, so are passing the memories and “grace” of the old place to the next owners.

Design worthy of worship