No. 1025 - Gordon - Union Church (1933-1967)

Gordon is a settlement on the Channel Highway about 25 kilometres southwest of Cygnet and which fronts onto the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. Gordon was once an orchard growing district. The area was previously known as 'Herne Bay' and 'Three Hut Point’.

The Gordon Union Church, which opened in February 1933, replaced an early church also shared by the Methodist and Anglican communities. In 1932, when the construction of a new church began, the local correspondent for Hobart’s Mercury recalled :

“Over 90 years ago a small dwelling was erected on the site where the new church is being built by two of Gordon’s earliest settlers, Messrs. John Behrens and Frederick Webber, for a Mr. John Abbott, an Englishman, who lived in a fine home with beautiful gardens and grounds, known as Rookwood, in the vicinity where Mr. Mason's general store now stands in Gordon. Many years later, after the disastrous bush fires of 1897 swept the State, the Gordon School, which for many years also served as a place of worship, with several other structures, was reduced to a heap of ashes. At this period Mr. Abbott's cottage was reconstructed into a kind of community church building by Mr. George Behrens…For over 30 years church services, christenings, marriages, and burial services have gone on without interruption in this little building, which was noted throughout the State as the only place of worship boasting a chimney. Recently this old structure was bought by Mr. Oscar Gordon for removal to his property to carry on a further period of usefulness. After having the building taken off its foundation and placed on rollers Mr. Gordon thoughtfully left it in position to act in its sacred capacity until superseded by the new structure….”.

The foundation stone of the new church was ceremonially laid on Saturday 24 October 1932. The correspondent for the Mercury reported that George Behrens (junior) had designed the church and that fundraising for the project had begun seven years earlier:

“This young man, practically self taught, has drawn up the plans and specifications — which would be a credit to any architect—free of charge, and is also giving one-half day’s labour a week free. The work is being done by day labour and local men. All preliminary work has been done by voluntary labour, the junk timber being barged from Garden Island Creek free of freight by Mr. Dooley Seabourne, who is also bringing the remainder from Hobart at half rates….As the population of the Gordon district is not large enough to support two churches the idea was conceived that the Anglican and Methodist supporters should unite and erect a building to be known as the Union Church. For this purpose a committee, consisting largely of women, was formed, with Miss Behrens as hon. secretary and Mesdames Marsden and Walter Watson as joint treasurers. Work started in earnest in March, 1926, when a fair was conducted In aid of funds. This function was successfully run by Mr. and Mrs. S. P. Allison and their many loyal supporters. Portion of the proceeds went towards temporary renovations to the old building, while the remainder was placed towards the new venture. As times since then have not been too prosperous the progress has been somewhat slow, but finally the sum of £220 stood to the committee's credit in the bank wherewith to start operations”.

The church was completed in early 1933 and was officially opened on Sunday 26 February. The Mercury records:

“A worthy effort, with its ups and downs of trials und success, lasting over a period of seven years, was brought to a gratifying close on Sunday afternoon.… In an atmosphere of bright and peaceful sunshine the Gordon people had the satisfaction of attending the first service to be conducted In their new Union Church, …. A congregation of 100 persons listened to addresses delivered by the Revs. A. E. Hodgson and H. A. Crothers, Anglican and Methodist ministers respectively, of the Channel parish. In honour of the occasion, Mr. P. K. Grove presented the Anglican Interests of the church with a figured reading desk and a large hymn book. Mr. Hodgson said the committee of women at Gordon had been enabled to see the house for which they had worked so hard completed….”.

Seventy years after the catastrophic bushfires which had destroyed the schoolroom, southern Tasmania was again devastated by the 1967 bushfires which destroyed well over 1500 buildings including a number of churches. The Gordon Union Church was one of the buildings lost and was never to be rebuilt. 

Gordon Union Church c.1933 - Photo supplied - photographer not known

Three Hut Point (Gordon) - Carte-De-Visite collection (TAHO) c.1880


Gordon c.1940 - Libraries Tasmania AA375/1/696 The Union Church is visible on the far right.




Gordon (2006) Kingborough Municipality aerial photographs (Libraries Tasmania) The site of the Union Church was close to the jetty.


Sources:

The Mercury, Monday 24 October 1932, page 2
Huon Times, Thursday 22 December 1932, page 1
The Mercury, Monday 5 June 1933, page 3
Mercury, Friday 3 March 1933, page 7

Henslowe, Dorothea I. and Hurburgh, Isa. Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania / by Dorothea I. Henslowe ; sketches by Isa Hurburgh [1978]












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