GUWAHATI, Aug 27: The 114-year-old third building of the historic Christ Church here is undergoing restoration. Christ Church, Guwahati is the oldest church of the NE region and services in this church started about 173 years back in 1844. The church is located between the Panbazar Nehru Park and the Office of the Lower Assam Commissioner. It is facing the Cotton College Centenary Gate. Its first building was completed in 1845. The first service in this building was held on October 26 that year. This building collapsed under the impact of the 1856 earthquake. The second building was built in 1861 and this imposing structure collapsed under the impact of the 1897 earthquake, which had a magnitude of 8. 

This necessitated the construction of the Assam-type third building and construction work for the purpose started in 1901. Construction of this Assam-type structure was completed in 1903. This beautiful Tudor Roof structure had galvanised CI sheets on its roof. It had timber pillars, brick half-walls and bamboo mesh walls. The walls were mud-plastered.

Forces of the elements and termites had eaten into its vitality and some renovations of the structure were carried out around 40 years back in 1978. During this renovation process, the mud plaster of the walls was replaced by concrete plaster. However, such renovations could not add much to its vitality and hence the present restoration works have been undertaken, said Jayanta Sarma of the Heritage Conservation Society of Assam (HeCSA), a nascent State-based archaeological conservationists’ group. This group is implementing the restoration project at an estimated cost of around Rs 40 lakh. The restored building will have an additional floor area of around 500 square feet to cater to the need of the growing number of the worshipers of the church. The church has now around 120 regular worshipers. The restored church building will have a total floor area of around 2,500 square feet, said architect Ranjib Baruah and Christ Church Guwahati member Pinuel Basumatary. Baruah, who has been working on the design of the church building and supervising the restoration works, said, “We are sticking to the original design of the building and have not added any new architectural feature to it. This has been done to keep the traditional value of the structure intact.” 

The structure has its wooden doors and windows crafted in gothic style. The timbers used in this structure were mostly Sal and teak and these timbers were kept dipped in linseed oil for some days to enhance their resistant capacity against the forces of elements. In the restoration works also, treated Sal timbers are used, Baruah said. He further informed that this time, bamboo and steel meshes are used in the walls. Besides, polymer fibre and a chemical admixture have also been used to add strength to the concrete used in the plaster of the walls. The restoration works of the church started in February this year. The structure is expected to be ready for services by October 26 next. 

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