On Clyde Street, Hamilton East, is the Chapel of St Mary’s Convent, a 1926 brick and plaster building designed by Hamilton architect Jack Chitty. The chapel, while primarily associated with Euphrasie House is in a neighbourhood that includes Marian School, Sacred Heart College and the Catholic Cathedral. A trust was formed to raise funds to seismically strengthen and renovate the Heritage NZ-listed building to 100% of the current new building standards.
The strengthening comprised the replacement of the outer layer of the double skin brick wall around the building, with a new steel-reinforced concrete shear wall. These in turn were tied back into substantial mass-concrete foundations extending a metre wide and a metre deep below ground level. Reinforced concrete beams were constructed at the top of the end gables and at the arch over the sanctuary, and all together with the sheer walls to create a well-anchored stiff box.
Careful attention was given to concealment of auxiliary lighting wiring within truss members and to provide additional up-lighting to reveal anew the existing match lined timber ceiling and lofty interior.
Spotlights to the beautiful rose windows enliven the windows to the street front and passersby. The carefully located flood light on the boundary wall provides light and shadow to the impressive chapel end-gable and wall.
A roughcast harling is applied over the shear walls to carefully match the existing stucco alongside, and brick slips were fixed to replicate that of the original architecture.
During construction the stained glass and leadlight windows were protected by plywood on both sides, and the floors, pews, alter, and cabinetry were also similarly protected.
Wherever modern interventions have been required they have deferred to the historic building and detail surrounding them. The new ramp and balustrading is shrouded with a formal planted raised bed. The scroll end to the metal handrails is created through a hot forged process more in keeping with the buildings origins.
Some craft skills such as bricklaying, textured plastering and lead flashing were called upon again to make a valuable contribution to the restoration. The original gateway was reconstructed as part of the project.
The chapel is Heritage New Zealand scheduled Category 2.