A Bit of Perth

The Church of the Sacred Heart, Highgate, was blessed and opened in 1906. But its history really begins in the spring of 1891, when Bishop Matthew Gibney rode out from central Perth north along the partly unmade road we now know as Beaufort Street. He chose the area at the top of Highgate Hill as the future site of a school and church, surrounded by residential lots.

The land was subdivided into 79 lots, with a site in the middle named Alacoque Square in honour of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, founder of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Mount Heart Estate was auctioned on 23 January 1892.

The reason for the naming of Mary St, which featured in yesterday’s Bit of Perth, is obvious.

By early 1897 Catholic residents of the area were asking for a school and church in the rapidly growing suburb of Highgate Hill.

Their Bishop agreed that a church could be erected on the site. A small timber and iron building was erected by residents and mass was first said there on 4 April 1897

In 1903 Highgate received its first parish priest, Fr Thomas Crowley. Fr Crowley served at Highgate Hill until 1936. A colourful character, he resided initially at the Queens Hotel on Beaufort Street until a presbytery was provided for him. There is a memorial tablet to him in the church.

Fr Crowley’s first priority was to provide a permanent parish church for his flock. He began planning for this in July 1904. A major fundraising event, the Federal Fair, was held in the Perth Town Hall in November.

In March of the following year a public announcement about the new church was made, and by May noted architect Richard Dennehy had been appointed.

By Christmas the new church was almost complete. It was blessed and opened by Bishop Gibney on 25 February 1906.

Behind the alter are three stained glass windows.


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