A heritage and community centre for Sydenham may be rebuilt on the site of the old Methodist church, which was demolished without the consent of either the owner or Civil Defence after the February quake.
The Sydenham Heritage Trust, which owns the property on the Colombo/Brougham Sts corner, wants to develop a community centre and mini museum there, and will complete a project plan this year.
The demolition of the historic 1878 church angered the trust and residents, but now the trust hopes good can come from it and to see the site celebrating Sydenham's history again.
"There is a huge amount of history and heritage in this part of Christchurch which now has no reference point at all," said trust deputy chairman Neil Roberts.
Before the quake the trust, formed in 2001, was two-thirds of the way through a long-term project to make the church a community facility and had raised more than $750,000 for it, including $250,000 for earthquake strengthening.
A lot of Oamaru stone and Halswell granite from the old church has been preserved.
The trust would like to see this material used in the exterior of a new community building, said Mr Roberts.
Stained glass saved from the church could also be incorporated in the new building. "There is a great dearth of facilities for the community now - there is nothing in that area at all," he said.
The trust hopes a public meeting space and a mini museum display area for memorabilia and old photos reflecting the heritage of Sydenham can be built. An amenity-kitchen facility at the site is intact, and could be incorporated with it.
Mr Roberts said that if the old post office building across the road, damaged in the quakes, could be preserved, the two buildings would match and provide "a gateway to Sydenham."
The Victorian post office building was designed to match the church, and now the trust proposed a building to match the post office, he pointed out. "However, it all depends on the dollars and we have to put together a project plan."
The alternative was to sell or abandon the site, and it could become a car yard. "The loss of heritage in Sydenham is so complete that unless something is put back on the site, that community is going to have no memory at all," said Mr Roberts.
In 1900 Sydenham was the model borough of Christchurch, he said. It had everything there, including grand homes and modest worker dwellings, industry, library, fire station, and a great retail centre. Sydenham also had one of Christchurch's first cinemas, and in the 1920s an early radio station.