Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fortitude Valley Wesleyan church

The increase in commercial activity that drew workers to the area, together with the arrival of immigrants into Fortitude Valley, precipitated the requirement for churches to be built. The Holy Trinity Anglican Church was built in 1877 and the Roman Catholic St Patrick's in 1882. Predating both of those structures was the one pictured below, which was the Fortitude Valley Wesleyan Methodist Church, constructed in 1871. There had been an earlier Wesleyan church in a different location, but the swelling population required a larger building.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

The new church could seat up to 400 worshippers, and was built facing Ann St to a design by Brisbane architect James Cowlishaw. The builder was Thomas Reading, and the cost was £1,000. However, by 1886 the Wesleyan congregation had expanded even more, and it was decided to build an even larger church on the same property. Architect George Simkin designed this building, and it was constructed by Blair Cunningham for about £5,000. This is a photograph of the third iteration of the Wesleyan church, taken in 1949. This church was built in front of the previous building and at right-angles to it, so that it faced Brookes St. The previous building was retained and used as a hall.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #184236)

This Fortitude Valley Wesleyan Church was the leading church of its denomination until the Albert St Wesleyan Church was completed in 1889. In 1898 the various brands of Methodism combined, and this church became known as the Fortitude Valley Methodist Church. In 1977 there was a further religious rationalisation with the formation of the Uniting Church, the combination of Methodists, Presbyterians and Congregationalists. As a result of that union, this church was no longer needed, and the building was decommissioned in February 1977.

(Photos: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Luckily, both the church buildings are still here. My recent photographs of the newer building are above. After a period where they were rented, the buildings were sold by the church in 1985 to the Royal Geographical Society who used the premises as their offices. That organisation has now moved, and a commercial interior design firm inhabits the newer building and a design company has an office in the original construction.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #189942)

The parsonage, called Epworth, is shown above in a 1935 photograph. It was built a little further up the road in Brookes St towards St Paul's Terrace in 1885. It too survives - here is a current photograph of that building, which is now the headquarters and chapel of KM Smith Funeral Directors.
(Photo: Courtesy

Click here for a Google Map to the church, and here for the parsonage.


Next: Strange vertical objects


  1. I love your old photos of Brisbane architecture :)

    The parsonage was light, colonial, elegant and veranda'd. Yet the church was more gothic, more red brick and heavier. I wonder if the same architect designed the two buildings and if they were originally built at the same time.

  2. Thanks Hels!

    The parsonage was built around the same time - perhaps a year earlier than the church MkII. I couldn't find any info about the architect.


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