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Million dollar makeover proposed for Redfern cathedral

The tower which is part of the Cathedral of the Annunciation of our Lady. Photo: Wikimedia

By ALLISON HORE

A heritage listed cathedral in Redfern is set for a multi-million dollar makeover, should a development approval for the works be approved. 

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia has lodged a development application for a $27.5 million project to rejuvenate and expand the Cathedral of the Annunciation of Our Lady next to Prince Alfred Park in Redfern.

Conservation works to the main cathedral building, construction of a new crypt and alterations and additions to the former St Paul’s rectory. The designer who put together the masterplan has worked on significant projects at other places of worship across Sydney including the St Mary’s Cathedral in the city and the Punchbowl Mosque.

The works also include the construction of a new theological college and museum which the church hopes will attract anyone interested in Greek culture, language and traditions regardless of faith or background. The college’s curriculum will also be expanded to include courses on language and counselling and the museum will host a series of exhibits on Greek-Australian history, culture, and immigration.

“We are very excited about developing the church not just to be a spiritual centre but also a cultural and social centre,” said Bishop Emilianos, the chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia.

The college expansion will include the construction of two, three storey buildings. Bishop Emilianos said he hoped the archdiocese would be able to fund the multimillion dollar works through donations from parishioners and the community. 

“This project is ambitious and might take us 20 years to accomplish but we have some very generous people who support us, and the whole community knows how important it is,” he said.

Heritage significance

The former Anglican church was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register in 2012 due to its significance as an example of early ecclesiastical architecture in Australia. Designed by architect Edmund Blacket, its design was used as a model for churches across the state.

The Cathedral was constructed between the 1840s and 1870s in the Free Gothic style, and the church’s tower was completed in 1875. Originally St Paul’s Anglican Church, the church was sold to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia in 1967 and is now recognised as the centre of the Greek Orthodox faith within Australia.  

As well as its architectural significance, Heritage NSW notes the cathedral as a place of cultural significance as it became a hub for European migrant communities which settled in NSW following World War II.

The Archdiocese hopes the first round of works- the rejuvenation of the heritage-listed Cathedral building- will be completed by March 2024 in time for the church’s centenary celebrations. 

A development application for the works is currently under assessment by the City of Sydney.

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