No. 114 - Former Church of Christ Invermay - Fortress For Christ?

This building caught my eye when I was photographing the nearby St George’s Anglican Church in Invermay. It is clear that it has been a church at some point in the past but it is so altered in appearance by the crenellations on the rooftop that it now gives the impression of a miniature castle painted battleship grey. Initial inquiries led me to doubt it was a church and a stumbling block was that I could not determine its denomination or date it. A breakthrough came when I found a reference to this building in legislation pertaining to the Church of Christ and this was confirmed by a search of Wise's Tasmanian Street Directory. From this point it was easy to find it mentioned in the newspaper record. 

The Church of Christ in Invermay attracted a lot of attention in the Examiner in the 1920’s because of the large crowds that gathered at the "tent missions" and also because of its association with the very active Church of Christ in Margaret Street in the city.

The Church of Christ in Launceston dates back to 1884 after an advertisement was placed in The Examiner calling for “Disciples of Christ” to start a new church. With nine members, meetings were initially held in private homes and halls. In 1913 a mission tent was erected on the corner of Kingsway and Brisbane Street and almost 300 people “committed their lives to Christ”.

The church established itself in the former Catholic Apostolic Church in Margaret Street in 1913 and soon after sought to expand elsewhere in the city. The Church of Christ at Invermay started in a similar fashion with a mission tent gathering converts to establish a new church in the suburb. This was reported in The Examiner in 1924:



“The mission conducted by Messrs Hinrichsen and Pratt at the corner of Lytton Street and Invermay road was brought to a successful conclusion on Wednesday evening. The mission, which was in its third week, attracted large crowds. On Sunday night it was estimated that nearly 700 people were present, and at the final meeting on Wednesday evening the tent was far too small to accommodate the people present. Mr Hinrichsen has delivered eloquent addresses, also the numerous questions asked through the question box were simply and plainly dealt with…. During two missions held by these missioners [sic] over 100 persons have confessed their faith in Christ… A branch church is now being established in Invermay, and a building is in the course of erection”.

Another report in the Examiner throws further light on the expansion of the church:

“The Margaret street church had planned an aggressive effort at Invermay, the result of which was the establishment of a branch. The newly formed church met for a short time in a large tent at Lytton-street, but Sunday last marked the entering of the church to the new church home. The building now occupied is designed for a school hall, but for the present, and until the church home is erected, the church meeting will be held in it. The place is a large spacious hall of wood, with two large vestry’s”. 


By the mid 1920’s the Church of Christ ceased using the wooden hall and built the church seen in the photograph. The crenellations and grey paint are a more recent addition. By this time the Church of Christ had branches in Prospect and Sandhill as well as communities scattered across Tasmania. It continued to operate in Invermay until at least the mid 1950’s. Further research is needed to complete the story of this rather embattled former church in Invermay.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Sources:

Examiner Wednesday 21 May 1924
Examiner Saturday 19 April 1924
Churches of Christ Tasmania Act 1978


Comments

  1. Are you sure of these facts? I seem to recall this being built maybe 30 years ago - intentionally with the odd grey ?crenellations. It was built as a family home by a local identity with some infamy regarding his ship building business. The building attracted criticism because it stood out so much from the Federation era homes around it. There were articles in The Launceston Examiner about the community concern.

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  2. Hi Unknown. The property was registered as belonging to Church of Christ. See Churches of christ Act Tasamania 1978 (Schedule A) It is listed there 265 Main Road Invermay).
    https://www.legislation.tas.gov.au/view/whole/html/inforce/current/act-1978-040
    Church of Christ is also listed in Wise's Street Directory in the 1930's at this address. In addition, I have had contact from two people who have memories of the church. It has been modified or rebuilt significantly . There are two elements which are clearly identifiable as parts of the former church - The gothic style windows around the front porch (also a classic church feature) and the roof vents which are placed in building like halls and churches to ventilate large interior spaces. I am hoping to get hold of a photo of the original building but no luck yet. I hope this resolves your question? It was probably a major rebuild you saw 30 years ago - but thanks for asking, I welcome any corrections but am pretty sure on thIs one.

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  3. Hi Duncan, I have just bought this property! I don't move in for a few weeks but you are welcome to come and take more pictures. We are planning to restore as much as possible. My research concurs with everything you have shared here. I would love to find an original image.

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  4. Hi there. Congratulations! It is great to know that the building is in appreciative hands. This was a challenging church to research as there was little in the newspaper record - but I will update it at some point. I haven't come across any photos of the original building but I have not really made a thorough search. It is possible that the Door of Hope might have an archive and I think that this is now the sole surviving Church of Christ community in Launceston. I would like to know when the crenulations were added as these would not be typical of a Church of Christ building - and more typical of the Salvation Army. If I come across a photo I will update and repost via my Churches of Tasmania Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1906683362994760. If you are able to share photos of the vacant interior this would be much appreciated. Kind regards, Duncan.

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