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St Mary's Church and Hall

Former Anglican Church of St Mary the Virgin, 1895, 6 Jackson St, Queen Victoria St, Jewell Parade, North Fremantle

Photograph courtesy of SLWA # 316532PD, January 1986 (from Facebook).

Heritage Council:
Former St Mary's Church and Church Hall are a typical stone and iron church building and a weatherboard and iron church hall building dating from the turn of the twentieth century.
The place has aesthetic value for its contribution to the streetscape and the surrounding area. It is representative of turn of the Century stone churches located within Fremantle. The place is a example of the Federation Gothic style of architecture. Historically significant as the Church of England's first church in the North Fremantle area, built before the formation of the North Fremantle parish. The Church's need to build a church and hall in the area reflects the residential character of North Fremantle at the time.
Jackson Street was originally part of Lot P47, which was granted to Pensioner Guard George Costigan in 1884. The land was transferred to James Roe (Perth Journalist), then to George Frederick Gallop (Fremantle Clerk) before being purchased by a group of gentlemen in 1897. William Edward Marmion, James Grave, Edward Keane, Edmund Gilyard Lacey and Frederick Charles Monger immediately subdivided the land for residential development and the lots were gradually taken up between 1897 and 1913. The origin of the name Jackson Street is not known.
Jackson Street was developed as a short street running east-west between Pearse Street and Queen Victoria Street (near the present junction with Stirling Highway). The houses built in Jackson Street were generally modest brick, stone or timber cottages for people working in the area. Many of the houses were investment properties leased to tenants. With the development and expansion of Fremantle Port, the zoning for the area changed from residential to general industrial purposes. In 2004, Jackson Street continues to be a residential street with most homes occupied by their owners.
The Anglican Church of St Mary the Virgin was built in 1895 for the growing North Fremantle community. Prior to the construction of their own church, the Anglican community of North Fremantle are believed to have held services in a building known as ‘The Depot’ (located northwest of the former North Fremantle State School). By 1889, services were held in the ‘New Mission Hall’ (later called the ‘St John’s Mission Hall’ or ‘Mason’s Hall’) in John Street.
Reverend Canon Watkins served as Rector for north ward of the Fremantle Parish and when the North Fremantle municipality was declared in 1895, the Church of England began plans to build a church in the area. On 20 March 1895, Bishop C O L Riley laid the foundation stone for St Mary’s. A copy of the West Australian and a number of coins were placed in the foundation stone. The building initially comprised a simple rectangle, as the Sanctuary and the dressing of the internal walls were completed at a later date. The Rector of St John’s continued to be responsible for services with assistance from lay readers until the formation of the North Fremantle parish in 1899.
The first Rector at North Fremantle was Reverend W F Marshall. A Rectory was built at 13 Jackson Street in 1899. In 1901, it was estimated that of North Fremantle’s population of 3,281, approximately 1,000 were Church of England.
The weatherboard and iron Church Hall, or Guild Hall, on the site faces Jewell Parade, was built in 1904 for the use of the parishioners and community of St Mary’s Church. Biship Riley laid a tablet on 9 November 1904 to mark the opening. Prior to the construction of the hall, the parish community used Albert Hall in Jewell Parade for social functions. The Church Hall was used for Sunday School, Mother’s Union, Girls’ Friendly Society, Gymnasium Club, Junior cricket club, a Glee club, and Musical Evenings with the church choir.
With the onset of World War One, more industries began to establish in the North Fremantle area and the North Fremantle parish continued to attract a steady flow of parishioners until the early 1940s, by which time the area had become dominated by industry.
St Mary’s ceased to have a resident rector in 1942, and rectors from East Fremantle or Fremantle oversaw St Mary’s. Recognising the residential decline of the area, the Church of England notified the City of Fremantle that St Mary’s would no longer be used for religious services in the early 1970s. The Church’s requested that the zoning of the land be changed to commercial or light industrial was granted in 1972, the same year that the grounds were deconsecrated.
The Church building remained vacant until the following year when it was occupied by the Fremantle Community School.

Bob Gare (architect and owner of the building):
Between 1974 and 1977, the building was occupied by AC Display services. In 1976 with zoning changed to residential the building was transferred to Gare and Klopper Architects and was rented to the Gare family. The Gare family subsequently became owners/occupiers in June 1979. Bob Gare as Architect and ‘hands on builder’ commenced redevelopment of the whole site while with wife Kate and four children initially camped in the empty church building using outside public toilet and hall supper room as makeshift bathroom.
Firstly, by the end of 1979, four three storey rental town house units were built on the portion of land facing Queen Victoria Street. Internal work then began on the Church building to make it more appropriate as a residence, including two mezzanine floors for bedrooms and installation of kitchen and two bathrooms.
Cyclone Alby exposed serious structural instability of a swaying hall building and moving and cracking north wall of the church building.
For the Hall to be approved as a residence the stage and supper room part of the building had to be demolished as these encroached on Jack St [Jackson St?] and a masonry firewall was required on the southern side. Mezzanine floors at each end together with steel bracing at one and rear brick bathroom, kitchen at the other end stabilized the dilapidated structure. Jeremy and Megan Kirwan-Ward were invited to occupy the building while this work was done. They became owners in 1986.
As interim measure to improve the Church north wall was to connect it by ‘S’ brackets to the internal timber construction. The final solution in 1990 was to introduce two flying buttresses mid wall between end piers. These were incorporated in creating additions, originally intended for architects office but instead became a granny flat for Grandmother Gare until 2002. At one time during this period one townhouse, church and granny flat housed four generations of the Gare family.
While being primarily used as a residence, the Church building retains its original social character. It has provided a venue for large Christmas carol gathers and weddings for family and friends. Other activities have included architect/builder office, management and practice for family bands Bungarra, Jam Tarts, Nansing, art exhibitions and a television studio for ‘The Best’ TV Series.
In 2001, to complete the redevelopment, ‘Anna Gare Catering’ was provided with a three storey commercial kitchen building facing Jackson St. That tenancy ceased in 2011.
In 2013 the Church and Church hall remain residences with Gare and Kirwan-Ward owner occupiers respectively. The four townhouses remain rental. The kitchen building is rented to ‘Rawsome’ raw food caterers.
This place was included in the 'North Fremantle Heritage Study' (1994) as a place contributing to the development and heritage of North Fremantle. It was also included in the list of heritage places in the City of Fremantle identified by the Fremantle Society (1979/80) - PURPLE - of architectural and historic significance in its own right.
Physical Description. Former St Mary's Church and Church Hall are a stone and iron former church building and a weatherboard and iron former church hall building designed in the Federation Gothic style of architecture.
The Church building has been altered for use as a single residence. The alterations have included a kitchen and bathroom added in 1980, single storey additions to the front and rear of the building and internal modifications.
In 1980, four new attached, three storey units were constructed. The units are orientated across the building and face towards Queen Victoria Street. These units are used for rental accommodation.
In 1991, an office was added to the building and in recent years another three storey building has been constructed facing Jackson Street.
The Church building was designed in the gothic revival style. Apart from subsequent brick additions, the construction comprises walls of squared limestone with rendered architraves to the lancet shaped windows.
The windows were originally lead-light rough cast glass throughout. The northern windows were changed to coloured, figured glass in steel frames c1950. The roof was originally sheoak shingles on ship lapped boards on exposed rafters on underpurlins on scissor type trusses all in hand planed jarrah. Galvanised iron roof sheets were laid over shingles c1930s. A zincalume custom orb re-roof was carried out in 1988.
This place contains a limestone feature - front limestone wall facing Jackson Street.

References and Links

Heritage Council page

Garry Gillard | New: 19 December, 2014 | Now: 23 November, 2023