No. 1223 - South Hobart - St Francis Xavier Catholic Church (1933)

When it opened in 1933, St Francis Xavier was the first Catholic church constructed in Hobart for over 50 years. The previous church built was Sacred Heart at New Town, completed in 1880. It is also one of only three Tasmanian Catholic churches built in the Romanesque style.

The Catholic Church’s presence in South Hobart dates back to 1863 when Bishop Willson sponsored St Luke’s School on Upper Macquarie Street. In 1873 St Luke’s was placed under the charge of the Sister’s of Charity, who ran the school until its closure in 1946. St Luke’s was used as a place of worship with Sunday Mass held every week from 1921 until 1933, the year St Francis Xavier opened.

The foundation stone for the new church was ceremonially laid by the Archbishop Hayden on Sunday 4 December 1932. The Mercury reported:

“When completed the building will be capable of seating 350 persons, and the general design is most pleasing. The cost will be in the vicinity of £5,250, …The church will be a substantial brick edifice in Romanesque style. The outside walls and piers will be constructed of red brick, and the arches and panels will be of picked blue and coloured brick. The main entrance in Adelaide Street and the Anglesea Street porch will be bold featured, surmounted with several arches of specially moulded bricks, with cement band ornament in Romanesque treatment….The roof, covered with asbestos slates, will be supported on heavy round trusses, with panelled ceiling. There will be a large balcony across the east end for the choir and organ loft. The vestries and offices will open off the west end, and access will be obtained to them from the side entrance. For the inside brick dado will be used with design in coloured bricks, and there will be brick arches and surrounds round all windows and features".

"The fall of the site offers an excellent opportunity to incorporate a Sunday school and offices, kitchen, and dressing room have been designed to accommodate 200 scholars, while the large classroom, 50ft. by 38ft. will be an excellent adjunct for entertainments and similar gatherings….The construction of the building has been entrusted to Mr. Charles Dunn, the architect being Mr. A. T. Johnston, F.R.A.I.A., of Messrs. Walker and Johnston, Hobart”.

The building work was completed within 6 months and the church was opened and blessed by Bishop Hayden on Sunday 4 June 1933 in the presence of a congregation numbering 1400. The total final cost of the church and furniture amounted to £6000, of £2000 had already been raised.

In 1965 a new Catholic school, St Francis Xavier Primary School, was opened next to the church, close to the site of St Luke’s School which had been demolished after it closed in 1946. The Sister’s of Charity returned to run St Francis Xavier Primary School until its closure. In 2019 the school was converted into 8 affordable housing units by community housing provider, Catholic Care.

St Francis Xavier Primary School has been converted into 8 affordable housing units.



Mercury, Saturday 3 December 1932, page 7
Examiner, Monday 5 December 1932, page 8
Mercury, Monday 5 December 1932, page 3
Examiner, Monday 5 June 1933, page 7
Mercury, Monday 5 June 1933, page 3

Southerwood, W. T. Planting a faith : Hobart's Catholic story in word and picture / [by] W. T. Southerwood [Hobart] 1970


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