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Dunedin - First Church

Dunedin - First Church

First Church is a prominent church in the New Zealand city of Dunedin. It is located in the heart of the city on Moray Place, 100 metres to the south of the city centre. The church is the city's primary Presbyterian church. The building is regarded as the most impressive of New Zealand's nineteenth-century churches, and is listed by Heritage New Zealand as a Category I structure.

The building, in decorated gothic style, was designed in 1862 by Robert Lawson, who also designed the city's Knox Church, which has a similar tower. Lawson had won a competition for the design of the church from among six entrants. Construction was delayed after the decision to reduce Bell Hill, with the foundation stone being laid in May 1868 by Dr. Thomas Burns, and was officially opened on 23 November 1873, by which time Burns, its champion, had already died. The church is dominated by its multi-pinnacled tower crowned by a spire rising to 56.4 metres (185 ft). The spire is unusual as it is pierced by two-storeyed gabled windows on all sides, which give an illusion of even greater height. Such was Lawson's perfectionism that the top of the spire had to be dismantled and rebuilt when it failed to measure up to his standards. It can be seen from much of central Dunedin, and dominates the skyline of lower Moray Place, and has a capacity of over 1000. 

The expense of the building was not without criticism. Some members of the Presbyterian synod felt the metropolitan church should not have been so privileged over the country districts where congregants had no purpose designed places of worship or only modest ones. The Reverend Dr Burns's championship of the project ensured it was carried through against such objections.

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New Zealand
Gladys Goodall
Gladys Goodall
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