No. 1493 - Invermay - St Finn Barr's Church Hall (1927-1954)

St Finn Barr’s Catholic church on Invermay Road opened in August 1954, almost 30 years after the original church burnt down in 1925. Following the destruction of the church and school a Drill Hall on Holbrook Street was used as temporary accommodation until the new school building opened in 1927. A hall within the school was used as a church for 27 years before a new church was built.

The foundation stone for the new school and church hall was ceremonially laid by Archbishop Barry on Sunday 7 November 1926. The building was completed in the following year and was opened by Archbishop Barry on Sunday 29 May. A report in Launceston’s Daily Telegraph described the opening ceremony and also included a detailed description of the new convent school and church hall:

“Before the blessing of the building, a short preliminary prayer service was held in the central hall, to which His Grace was conducted by Dean Hennessy and Father Cullen… The service finished, Barry was then conducted through and around the entire building, blessing it in the name of God, and sprinkling the foundations and walls with holy water. It was a scene marked by solemnity and was most impressive. St. Joseph's Band rendered a programme of sacred music during the blessing of the edifice. Dr. Barry and Dean Hennessy then ascended a dais in front of the building, where the former, delivered an inspiring and appropriate address….”.

“The new building was designed by Mr Thos. Tandy, Launceston, and was built by Messrs Munro and Quinn. In appearance it is somewhat what similar to the churches at Longford, Sheffield, Devonport and Wynyard. The land, some four and a half acres was purchased from the estate of the late Mr R. J. McKenzie and the fine house within a few yards of the school from the estate of the late Mr John McKenzie. The foresight shown by those entrusted to purchase is indeed admirable, as the new building with its fine property should eventually prove to be one of the greatest assets this part of the city will have, as several Catholic families have already intimated their intention of building in the locality”.

“Enclosing the grounds is a handsome iron fence, with concrete settings as yet only partially completed, and all the entrances to the building are raised several feet from the ground. Greatly resembling the Silesian Convent in Cape Town, South Africa. The roomy portico, as seen from the front, has a very striking effect, and this, with the red tiled roof, considerably enhances the beauty of the building. The large hall, 80 by 27 feet, will seat about 300 people and will be used as a place where entertainments can be given as well as a temporary church. It is proposed to later build a church in the grounds nearby. The ceiling of the church is composed of durabestos, oak beams, and steel joists”.

“There are over six fine class rooms, also a spacious music room. The lighting and ventilation are considered perfect. The commercial room, which is situated upstairs, will be fitted with every convenience and should be perfectly suitable to the purpose intended. There are also priests and boys sacristies, kitchen and pantries, storerooms and numerous conveniently-placed cupboards, which are intended for the use of the scholars….The floors of the building, as well as the balcony, are of concrete. Surmounting the two gabled ends of the building are two huge cement crosses, which denote the sacred character of the edifice….”.

After the completion of St Finn Barr’s Church in 1954 the church hall was used exclusively as the school hall. The building is heritage listed and described as a fine example of the “Inter War Free Classical Style”.

St Finn Barr's School (2019) Photo: Duncan Grant

A photograph of St Finn Barr's while it was still in use as a church. c.1950. Posted in the St Finn Barr's Graduates Facebook Group. Source not given.

The school and church hall under construction (1926) Source: Queen Victoria Museum and art Gallery - Registration Number QVM 1983:P:1489

Sources and Further Information:

Examiner, Monday 8 November 1926, page 5
Daily Telegraph, Monday 30 May 1927, page 8
Examiner, Monday 30 May 1927, page 6

Southerwood, W. T.  Planting a Faith : Launceston's Catholic story in word and picture / W.T. Southerwood  W.T. Southerwood [Hobart  1968]

St Finn Barr's Graduates Facebook Page:


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