Looking behind... Latham Lane resident Alan Key has a clear view of the dilapidated back of the former East Gore Presbyterian Church, which is not impressing him.PHOTOS: MARGARET PHILLIPS

Alan Key is urging those involved in restoring the former East Gore Presbyterian Church to complete the project, as he has been looking at the dilapidated back of the building for about 10 years.

The Latham Lane resident’s section adjoins the back of the former church, which is now the East Gore Arts Centre.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel for Mr Key.

Arts and heritage curator Jim Geddes said stage three of the long-term project was nearly finished and the fourth and final stage in the complete restoration of the church would begin after that.

Mr Key contacted The Ensignafter reading in last Friday’s edition about a derelict house in Mataura.

The front of the building had been renovated but he was concerned about the back of the original church.

He had pointed out the problems with the arts centre building to Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks when he visited the Latham Lane property several years ago.

The building had been under development into the arts centre for several years.

The front had been renovated and looked good, but the back of the building – which was exposed more to southerly weather – had cladding missing, Mr Key said.

Mr Key said he was a mechanic and was taught to finish each job before starting another, and he believed that would be good advice for the council.

The council had several projects on their agenda such as a new equestrian centre, two dog parks and the arts precinct upgrade, he said.

Mr Geddes said stage three, which was the building of a studio was 90% complete. Stage four, the complete renovation of the old church building, would be overseen by Signal Management Group.

Heritage architect Jeremy Salmond, helped by structural engineer Peter Stevenson, had completed the full restoration plan for stage four, which included an art education centre, which would include costings, Mr Geddes said.

The pair had also developed a sequence of work plan covering the entire restoration.

The church building was sound, he said.

Preparatory work on stage four to date had been funded by a local family trust, he said.

The trust had also made a contribution to the seeding funding for the structural work.

Stage four would be divided into three structural components, he said.

“So it’s exciting,” Mr Geddes said.

The whole project was reliant on donated funding, as the council did not contribute financially, he said.

Mr Geddes said the council did not own the the building – it had been bought by the Eastern Southland Gallery Committee.

Stage one involved buying the property, and stage two was development of artist accommodation.

Mr Geddes hoped the restoration would be completed within three years.

New life… The front of the former East Gore Presbyterian Church looks fresh and attractive after restoration.
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