No. 1167 - Hobart - Swan Street Methodist Sunday School - "Child Culture of the Present Age"

This entry is another in a series of articles about buildings associated with some of Tasmania’s most significant churches. These buildings include Sunday schools, parish halls, convents, schools and residences of the clergy. Ancillary buildings are often overlooked and are rarely featured in published histories. My aim is to create a basic record of some of the most significant buildings, including those which no longer exist.

The Swan Street Methodist Church opened in 1905 as a new place of worship for a congregation which had previously met in a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel on High Street (now Tasma Street). [see No. 966]. Plans were made to build the new church on Swan Street soon after the Methodist Union of 1902. Two foundation stones for the new building were ceremonially laid on Wednesday 7 September 1904. The church was officially opened on Wednesday 15 March 1905.

In 1913 the building of a Sunday school began on a site behind the church. The foundation stone for the school was ceremonially laid on Saturday 18 October as reported in the Mercury:

“The ceremony of laying the foundation-stone of the new schoolroom of the Swan-street Methodist Church was performed by the superintendent of the Sunday-school, Mr G.W.R. Ife, on Saturday afternoon. There was a fairly large and representative gathering. The scaffolding was artistically decorated with multi-coloured flags and the Union Jack, for the occasion. Both the children and the parents participated in the singing of specially chosen hymns. The Rev. L.E. Bennett officiated in the service, as also did the Rev. J. Williams…”

“Mr G. R. W. Ife, in laying the stone (which is in memoriam of the late Mr. G. W. Ife, who for many years was superintendent of the High-street Methodist Sunday-school), said the ceremony that day marked an era in keeping with the general principles of child culture of the present age. The old idea that anything was good enough for the children had been completely wiped out, but instead, people were at last beginning to realise that the very best facilities should be offered for their spiritual education….”.


The school, which was a single story building, was constructed by Mr A.G. Brownell at a cost of £380. The building was opened for use in January 1914.

In 1922 an additional storey was added to the school at a cost of £800. The extension was opened on 23 July 1922. The Mercury reported:

“For some time past the junior portion of the Swan-street Methodist Sunday-school has been hampered by lack of space, and it was determined by the trustees to remedy this defect by building another room for this department of the work. In 1913 a room was put up at the rear of the church, for use by the kindergarten and primary scholars. The new junior school room, which is to be dedicated on Sunday morning, has been built over the top of the kindergarten schoolroom. It is approached by a short flight of stairs built out from the present building, in order to give the full benefit of space. Care has been taken to make the building worthy of the work for which it is intended. The front facing Elizabeth-street has been carried up and tastefully designed with a large leadlight window. The room is excellently lighted and ventilated, and will possess every convenience for a well regulated Sunday-school…”.

The Sunday school building is now partly obscured by a modern extension to the church. The school rooms are currently used as church offices.



The Sunday school behind the church (2021)



The Swan Street Uniting (Methodist) Church (2021)


Sources:

Mercury, Monday 20 October 1913, page 2
Mercury, Thursday 20 July 1922, page 6

Stansall, M. E. J. & Methodist Church of Australasia. (1975). Tasmanian Methodism, 1820-1975. Launceston, Tas: Methodist Church of Australasia

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