Occupying the southwest corner of Church and Sophia streets St. Mary’s Anglican church is a stunning example of local church building traditions. The last and lasting career commission of architect William Barnett Armson, St. Mary’s is faithful to the Middle Pointed Gothic revival style approved by church experts of the time. The locally sourced blue stone masonry contrasts the softer and lighter Oamaru stone trimming details and interior to fashion an elegant composition of forms. The result, while showing signs of wear and tear, remains imposing but suitably delicate and poised as it demands attention in the heart of Timaru.
Begun in 1880, construction of St. Mary’s spanned more than 28 years including Armson’s untimely death in 1883. J.J. Collins and R.D. Harman from Armson’s office took over construction supervision, but only after making some not-so-subtle design adjustments. In place of Armson’s tall pointed spire Collins and Harman planned a shorter square tower, and instead of a faceted chancel at the eastern end of the building, today’s rectangular solution was adopted. Only the main ridge - the nave of the church - was completed to Armson’s original specification.
Having been closed over the last few years to address earthquake concerns St. Mary’s is now open again to be enjoyed as the tremendous asset it is.
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