Fr Franco Filipetto is overjoyed with the finished look in the old church.
Fr Franco Filipetto is overjoyed with the finished look in the old church. Jonno Colfs

An almighty makeover for St Mary's

AFTER nine months of painstaking work, drainage issues and even a surprise grave, work on the restoration of the original St Mary's church is complete, for now.

Work at the building, in the St Mary's School lower campus, began during the September school holidays last year when it became clear work was needed.

As a heritage-listed building, demolition was not an option.

Restoration was necessary before the building became so dilapidated a complete rebuild was required.

The original sandstone building was built in 1865, and the part that has now been restored was an add-on completed in 1888.

The building housed a tuckshop for more than 50 years, also was home to a boys and girls toilets, long since decommissioned, and a third section was used as a meeting room, up until works began.

Father Franco Filipetto said major drainage issues were discovered.

"The ground underneath the building was mud and the whole system needed to be rebuilt,” he said.

"Once this was fixed, work began on returning the building to its original design. The false ceiling was removed revealing the beautiful rose windows and the magnificent trussed roof.”

Along the way workmen from McNally Constructions also discovered an under-floor grave belonging to former parish priest James Horan, whose body was moved into the new church in 1928, some 13 years after his death.

"There was some stonework done, quite a lot of replastering, a beautiful timber floor was laid and the entire interior was repainted,” Fr Franco said.

"The space will be used as a function and meeting room and will be opened officially at our patronal feast on Sunday, August 20.”

The aim is to refurbish the rest of the 152-year-old building in the future.



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