No. 824 - Rosny - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Rosny is an eastern suburb of Greater Hobart located on the banks of the Derwent River. The suburb spreads around the western slopes of Rosny Hill. The name is taken from Rosny Point, originally named Canadian Point. This was changed to Rosny after an ancestor of Walter Bethune, who was granted the land in 1820.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) first appeared in Tasmania in the 1850s when missionaries began to proselytise in Hobart. Despite local opposition congregations were established in Hobart in 1894 and in the Upper Huon in 1899. The first chapel opened in 1924 at Lefroy Street, North Hobart, followed by a chapel built at Glen Huon in 1927.

The 1950s was a time of growth for the LDS and the chapel at Rosny was the first to be constructed following the acquisition of nineteen sites across Tasmania for an ambitious building program. Prejudice towards the LDS by traditional churches, due to its unorthodox beliefs, presented a challenge when it came to purchasing a site for the Rosny chapel:

“The clergy openly vowed….to see that no land would be sold to the Latter Day Saints for building purposes. The district president…spent several days calling on real estate firms, also on owners who advertised through signs and newspaper advertisements that they had property for sale. In every case we were asked why we wanted land. When they found we were intending to build a chapel we were notified that their land was not for sale to the Mormon Church”.

Despite this challenge a site was found in 1957 and work on construction began before the close of the year. The scale of the church on its hilltop site created much interest especially as the church included a hall, classrooms, offices and other facilities. Work was completed within 9 months and the Chapel was officially opened on Sunday 7 September 1958.

The book “50 Years - A Chapel on The Hill” provides some interesting anecdotes about the Rosny Chapel. The first marriage held in the chapel was between two non-members of the LDS. As the groom had previously been divorced, the couple was not able to be married in their own church but the LDS were able help fulfil their wish for a traditional marriage by making the new chapel available. Another unusual arrangement arose in 1975 following the Tasman Bridge disaster. When the bulk ore carrier, the Lake Illawara, crashed into the bridge bringing down a 127 metre span, it seriously disrupted the lives of commuters who were dependent on the bridge to reach Hobart. Following the disaster the LDS Chapel and adjoining classrooms became the temporary home for 44 children and three teachers of the Preparatory class of the Friends’ School.

Since 1958 the chapel complex has had several extensions most notably in 1998 when six new classrooms and offices were constructed at the northern end of the building. In the 60 years since it was founded the ‘Chapel on the Hill’ has witnessed many changes. When it was built there were few buildings in the vicinity apart from a Fire Station and houses on Montagu Bay Road. The Chapel is now in the middle of suburbia and the hostility of the the early years is almost forgotten.

The Chapel under construction in 1958 - photo supplied by C. Chick

                                                     The 1998 extension - photo D. Grant

                                                    The LDS Church in 2020 - Photo D. Grant

                                                          The LDS Church in 2020 - Photo D. Grant

                                                    The LDS Church in 2020 - Photo D. Grant


                                                     The LDS Church in 2020 - Photo D. Grant

                         The Chapel under construction in 1958 - photo supplied by C. Chick

                               The Chapel under construction in 1958 - photo supplied by C. Chick

                                                             photo supplied by C. Chick

                                               photo - Libraries Tasmania PH30-1-3101


                                                            photo supplied by C. Chick

                                                         photo supplied by C. Chick

                                         The interior of the chapel - photo supplied by C. Chick

                                        The interior of the chapel - photo supplied by C. Chick


Sources:

50 years : a chapel on the hill : the story of the Rosny Chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints : 1958-2008. [editor, John Chick]. Mornington, Tas. : Prionotes Press, 2008.

A special thank you to Colin Chick for his support and assistance with this article.

Comments

  1. We are hosting an online Adult Institute with the curriculum " Jesus the Christ" (Talmage) and inviting empty nesters, elderly singles, new members or non members. It is hosted by the Braeside Melbourne Stake. We have students from NZ,Sth Australia, Victoria. If. You know of anyone interested in meeting with our online group, 7pm to 9 pm Weds nites please send us a txt and we will forward the Zoom details and lesson material. Kind regards Bro & Sis Atwater (teachers)

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