Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
In 1959 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) announced a programme to build 29 new churches in New Zealand. Around the world churches were being completed at the rate of one a day, a building programme said to be second only to the US government. Ground-breaking ceremonies for the church at 140 Moxham Ave, seventh in the New Zealand building scheme, took place in April 1959. The three-quarter acre site had until then been Chinese market gardens.
September 1929, looking down from Overtoun Tce or Busaco Rd to Moxham Ave. Beyond the Anglican church are the last remaining Chinese market gardens, future site of the LDS church. Detail of photo from Evening Post Collection at Turnbull library (ref EP 11/4 Wellington, Hataitai), used with permission.
The church was built in 26 months with labour and money donated by church members in Wellington, plus funds from church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Evening Post reported that the church cost about £100,000 to build and 95% of the materials used came from New Zealand. The paper commented on the modern design of the building. It was framed in wood and steel, and the apex of the chapel was 30ft high. Apart from the chapel seating 400, there was an adjoining cultural hall with a parquet floor which could seat 450 or be used for dancing, indoor sports and other functions. There was a stage, dressing rooms, kitchen and classrooms in the centrally-heated complex. Leading off the cultural hall was a baptismal font. The paper reported that Mormons believe in baptsim by total immersion, so the font was a tiled pool measuring 8ft x 5ft and 4ft deep. In front of the church stood an aluminium-sheathed spire to be floodlit at night.
The church was officially opened on 6 July 1962. Over 700 people attended, and the Mayor of Wellington Mr Kitts and the Minister of Finance, representing the Prime Minister, spoke at the opening ceremonies. Over the next few months open days were held for the general public to have a look at the complex.
Sources:Evening Post, various articles 1959-1964.
Today the church has a family history library open to the public. Ring 386-1227 for opening times and enquiries, or visit the church's genealogical website at Family Search.