People raise funds to conserve 173-year-old church

Guwahati: Razed to the ground twice by two powerful earthquakes that ravaged Assam in the 19th century, the historic Christ Church located at the heart of the city is now going to be the site for a heritage conservation effort, for the first time in its 173-year-old history.

Members of the Church’s congregation have been collecting money for the renovation and have now issued a public appeal for assistance. The old structure of the church has been severely damaged and on the brink of an imminent collapse due to termites that ate into the wooden pillars.

Careful planning, mathematical analysis, strategic placing of old and new construction materials, expensive sal wood and 3D modelling are required for the present makeover, for which the Heritage Conservation Society of Assam (HeCSA) and the Architects’ Designers’ Plenum have been roped in. “The renovation work began in March and careful detailing was required before the conservation work was started. The prominent design of the structure and its retention is the prime focus of the conservation. The Church is an example of brilliant methodology that was adopted more than 100 years ago and is still an architectural wonder,” said Jayanta Sarma of the HeCSA.

The focus of the restoration work is the facade. Work will also be done to ensure that the structure is stable in the years to come.

“The construction is quite expensive. Estimates put the cost at Rs 40 lakh. The target date for rededication of the restored building is October 26 – the day in 1845 on which the Church building completed,” added Sarma.

The original building was constructed in the shape of a castle. On May 9, 1844, Reverend Robert James Bland was appointed the Chaplain of Assam, and a committee was formed to lay the foundation of the Christ Church. The structure then extended till the erstwhile Church Field (present day Judges’ Field). In the 1856 earthquake, the walls of the structure were severely damaged. It was then rebuilt in 1861. The 1897 earthquake destroyed the structure completely. The present structure was built in 1901 and underwent a renovation in the 1970s.

(Source The Times of India)

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