Page last updated at 19:24 GMT, Monday, 29 December 2008

Church HQ gets 1m repairs grant

Church House
Church House located in Belfast city centre is a Grade A listed building

The Presbyterian Church has been awarded a 1m grant to help repair its Belfast city centre headquarters.

It will contribute to the restoration of Church House in Fisherwick Place, a Grade A listed building, which is to cost a total of 4m.

The grant comes from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

It is the biggest ever single award made under the Historic Buildings Grant Aid Scheme for repairs to listed buildings.

Church House is one of Belfast's best known buildings and it is important that an important part of the city's architectural heritage is preserved
Sammy Wilson

"This is very welcome news for the Presbyterian Church which has already embarked on the restoration project and which it is hoped will be completed by the summer of 2010," a spokesman for the church said.

"It is also good news for those who are concerned to preserve the architectural heritage of Belfast.

"Some years ago, when the extent and cost of the stonework repairs became clear, the church did consider selling the city centre site and moving elsewhere.

"However, after protracted internal debate the church decided to stay and refurbish its 100-year-old headquarters, a decision which will now be greatly helped by this generous grant."

Church House's 1300-seater assembly hall
The landmark property was renovated in 1992

Environment Minister Sammy Wilson also welcomed news of the 1m grant.

He said: "Church House is one of Belfast's best known buildings and it is important that an important part of the city's architectural heritage is preserved for future generations.

"This grant will go a long way towards ensuring that."

Church House, a three-storey building, was built in 1905 and was opened by the Duke of Argyll.

It was built in the style of a Scottish baronial castle and the crown on top of its tower was based on St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh.

The building was renovated in 1992 to provide more accommodation and houses a 1300-seater assembly hall, offices and a shopping mall.

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