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Holy Name Cathedral, Brisbane

Design for the Holy Name Cathedral, Brisbane

Holy Name Cathedral was a planned, then partially built, then discontinued project to build a Catholic cathedral in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Australia. It was to have been the seat of the Archbishopric of Queensland and was intended to have been the largest church building of any Christian denomination in the Southern Hemisphere. The formidable Archbishop James Duhig was the chief proponent of the project. Building began in 1927 and in the 1930s services were held in a crypt chapel on the site. After Duhig's death in 1965 the project lost its impetus. The archdiocese sold the site to property developers in 1985. Today the perimeter walls and some balustrades in Ann Street and part of Gotha Street have been preserved in an apartment complex called "Cathedral Place"; these remnants of the cathedral were heritage-listed in 1992.


"Duhig the Builder"Edit

In the early years of Duhig's ecclesiastical provinciate, his archdiocese took on an extensive building program, including churches, hospitals and schools.[1]


The intended site for the cathedral was on the rise at the southern end of the inner city suburb of Fortitude Valley, between Ann and Wickham Streets.

The site of the Holy Name Cathedral had previously been the site of "Dara", the 1850 built residence of the first Catholic Bishop of Brisbane, James Quinn (1859–1881).[2] The 1850 house was demolished and replaced by a more substantial dwelling of the same name that housed the second bishop, Robert Dunne, who was later the first Archbishop of Brisbane (1830–1917) and then Archbishop Duhig from 1917 until 1928 when "Dara" was demolished to make way for the Holy Name Cathedral project.[2]

The site also comprised land that had been purchased by the Brisbane Town Council as a possible site for their new town hall. However, Charles Moffatt Jenkinson, the mayor of Brisbane in 1914, decided to construct the city hall at Albert Square (now known as King George Square) and committed the council to that decision by selling the alternative site in Fortitude Valley to the Catholic Church for the construction of the Holy Name Cathedral.[3][4] Some of the site in Kemp Place, Fortitude Valley (where the crypt was later built) was sold in the early 1920s for a nominal rate to the Council (who later sold it to the Catholic Church at a very high price) by Simon Kreutzer (1865-1926) "who was famous as a blacksmith". (Photo of Simon outside his shop in about 1906 is available.) (Simon was of 8 children born to Christian Kreutzer,(1824-1896) a vinedresser, and Marianne (née Moledar)(born 1827) from Kaferthal, Baden, Germany who had sailed in 1852-3 on the 'Johan Cosar' to Sydney and later farmed land on the banks of Kedron Brook and had a house where the 'Toombultown' shopping centre is now . They were literate Roman Catholics and had 30 grandchildren in Australia.)[5]


Brisbane RC Cathedral courtyard

Holy Name Cathedral was designed by the Sydney firm of architects "Hennessy, Hennessy & Co."[2]

It was intended to be "the largest sacred building in the Commonwealth" being 330 feet long, 220 feet wide and 270 feet high. It was to be capable of seating 4000 people.[6]

Construction commencesEdit

Concrete foundations for the building were laid in the 1920s. The foundation stone was laid on 14 Sept 1928 by the papal legate, Cardinal Cerretti, with a crowd of 35,000 people in attendance.[7] Due to the Great Depression fund-raising efforts stalled. Because of lack of funds caused by unwise investment in oil shares of the Roma oil wells the dream did not come true.[8] Nevertheless, Duhig managed to raise enough funds to build a crypt on the site which was completed in 1934.[2] In August 1935, the principal altar in the crypt was consecrated by Duhig.[9] However, fundraising efforts stalled shortly thereafter and construction never recommenced.[citation needed]

Construction haltsEdit

The Holy Name Cathedral project was subject to further ongoing setbacks. In 1949 the Holy Name architect Jack Hennessy, junior sued for unpaid fees and in 1950 the court awarded him over £25,000.[1][10] There was also a formal church protest against Duhig, claiming imprudence, irresponsibility, malevolence and subservience to the wealthy, which put an end to the dream of a new cathedral.[citation needed] Following this it is believed that Duhig never mentioned the cathedral in public again and took his dream with him when he died in 1965.[who?] Stone remaining at the former site of Holy Name Cathedral was sold to the Anglican St John's Cathedral.[citation needed]

Sale of the siteEdit

This retaining wall and balustrade is the last remnant of Brisbane's Holy Name Cathedral
Balcony overlooking the street

The archdiocese sold the site to property developers in 1985. Today the perimeter walls and some balustrades in Ann Street and part of Gotha Street have been preserved in an apartment complex called "Cathedral Place"; these remnants of the cathedral were heritage-listed in 1992.[11]

St Stephen's CathedralEdit

St Stephen's Cathedral, Brisbane in the central business district has remained the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane.


  1. ^ a b "Who was James Duhig?". University of Queensland. 8 December 2006. Archived from the original on 1 August 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Holy Name Cathedral Site". Environmental Protection Agency (Queensland). 8 December 2006. Archived from the original on 2004-01-16. Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  3. ^ "Charles Jenkinson dies". Sunday Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 4 July 1954. p. 3. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  4. ^ "CITY IMPROVEMENTS". The Brisbane Courier. National Library of Australia. 23 May 1914. p. 4. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  5. ^ "They came from Pommern (Prussia), 1982 and First Addendum, 1984.
  6. ^ "LARGEST IN AUSTRALIA". The Daily News. Perth: National Library of Australia. 14 July 1927. p. 2 Edition: HOME (FINAL) EDITION. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  7. ^ "Holy Name Cathedral". The Longreach Leader. Qld.: National Library of Australia. 21 September 1928. p. 26. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  8. ^ "They came from Pommern (Prussia)." 1982 p 176.
  9. ^ "HOLY NAME CATHEDRAL CRYPT". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 17 August 1935. p. 19. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  10. ^ "£25,720 TO HENNESSY". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 17 May 1950. p. 1. Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  11. ^ "Holy Name Cathedral Site (entry 600208)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 

External linksEdit