Monday, October 21, 2013
GM buys church, turns it into Chess Center
North Shore church sales finalised
Last updated 05:00 22/10/2013
A black belt in karate and an international chess champion have taken a leap of faith.
Both now own historic North Shore churches and by coincidence the long sale process for both buildings has just concluded.
Radio host Danny Watson is moving Seido Karate Devonport and a ceramics school into 140-year-old St Michael and All Angels in Bayswater.
And chess grand master Murray Chandler is creating a national chess centre in Devonport's St Paul's Presbyterian Church, built in 1916.
Grand master makes a move
International chess champion Murray Chandler says he bought historic St Paul's Church on an impulse.
Chess players have a clinical, robotic reputation but they're really just a cross section of the community, Mr Chandler says.
"I'm very impulsive."
That was the case when he spotted the 1916 church up for sale, just a week before tenders closed, and he never even considered engaging a building surveyor before he bid on it.
"I knew they would all tell me not to do it."
Mr Chandler is prepared for the fact there's a lot of work to do and says the Northern Presbytery was very open with buyers. Buyers were warned the church needs $300,000 worth of earthquake strengthening alone.
Mr Chandler says this work is major and he's not rushing into it. He is keen to learn more about the new techniques being investigated in Christchurch.
Buying the church is more about indulging a passion for chess rather than money making, he says.
He plans to run a national chess centre from a church hall and help introduce chess as part of the national curriculum.
Chess is great for teaching discipline, logic and being responsible for your actions, he says.
"There are no dice or referees. Your decisions have consequences."
He plans to teach chess to children and adults at the centre with help from New Zealand's No 1 female player Helen Milligan who lives in Devonport.
Mr Chandler hopes to move to Devonport in November and open the national chess centre in January.
The church will be available for weddings, funerals and potentially concerts because of its good acoustics.
One hall will be used for the national chess centre and the other can be a reception venue and will be open for community group bookings.
Northern Presbytery representative Stewart Milne says the church ideally wanted St Paul's to remain as a place of worship but didn't receive any tenders of this nature.
Mr Chandler bought the church and hall on one title after confirmation there were no graves on that land.
A second lot is a closed burial ground and ownership will be transferred to Auckland Council. The church and Mr Chandler agreed to a number of measures sought by residents and descendants of those buried in the graveyard.