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Saint Columba's Church


City of South Perth

Place Number

There no heritage location found in the Google fusion table.


25 Forrest St South Perth

Location Details

Local Government

South Perth



Construction Date

Constructed from 1937, Constructed from 1936

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents More information
(no listings)

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management More information
Category Description
Municipal Inventory Adopted 14 Nov 2000 Category A+

Category A+

Already recognised by the Heritage Council in the State Register of Heritage Places

Statement of Significance

Saint Columba’s Church is an uncommon, but fine, generally intact example of the Inter-War Romanesques style in Perth. The building is located in a prominent location along the south Perth foreshore of the Swan River and forms a significant component of the amphitheatre of buildings around Perth Water and has landmark qualities. The coloured leadlight glazing throughout, together with the carving and colouring of the roof trusses in the nave is of aesthetic significance. Saint Columba’s Church marks the focus of almost a century of the presence of the Roman Catholic Church in South Perth and makes a meaningful contribution to the sense of place of both the pastoral and local community.

Physical Description

The Saint Columba’s Church site is on elevated land along the southern shore of the Swan River, overlooking the City of Perth to the north. The buildings on the site, while highly visible from Perth do not set out to take advantage of the outlook available. The orientation of the axis of the church is north and south, a signature of the architecture of E Le B Henderson, probably intended to reduce insolation during the main service in the late morning. The narthex of the church is at the north (river) end leading through doors on the east and west into a simple, elongated nave with a five sided apse at the southern end containing the altar. A bell tower surmounted by a cupola is at the north western corner of the building and chapels and the sacristy open as transepts from each side of the southern end of the nave.
The structure of the Saint Columba’s Church building is modulated by brick piers separated by coupled pairs of elongated arch headed windows while the north wall is punctured by a rose window with trefoil pattern tracery.
Construction materials:
The building is probably a brick structure, rendered both internally (to simulate coursed stretcher stonework) and externally with textured material. The roof is saddle-backed and clad externally with terra cotta Cordova
tiles with their ends at the eaves, unfortunately concealed by the eaves gutter. The recent addition of rectangular metal sun screens over all the external voids, except the rose window and the doors, conceals the
elevational impact and design style of the building. There are extensive unrelieved red brick paved driveways and paths around the perimeter of the building/ Internally, the altar is to some extent overpowered by the richness of the decoration of the Douglas Fir roof trusses in the nave. These are sprung from timber corbels at the plates and the tie member has bosses at the
intersection of the post web members. An unusual blind member added to the king post recants the cross motif. All of the truss members are stop chamfered and heavily decorated and coloured with Spanish Mission motifs. Above the trusses, the ceiling is clear finished jarrah boarding which carries through into the apse.The arch of the apse is reinforced with a simple twisted black wrought iron tie structure, the ceiling is clear finished jarrah tongued and grooved boards. The steps of the apse rise from the floor of the nave in white Carrara marble with matching pulpit in white marble staves with fan vault motif over, the reredos in the Serliana motif having brown marble inserts and a simple altar also with brown inserts and a marble font. The two pairs of round arch
headed windows in the south wall segments of the apse are coupled by hood-moulds over. Details of the coloured leadlighting glazing in Saint Columba’s Church is contained in the National Trust Assessment.
The pews, six confessionals, stairs, balustrading and choir balcony are in clear finished jarrah. The Presbytery located a short distance to the west of the church is a simple, single storey, brick and tiled building in a domestic scale of little architectural importance.
The two buildings are in good condition. The integrity of the exterior of the building has, to a minor degree been reduced by the superimposition of modern brise-soleil panels over the majority of the windows thereby losing their characteristic Romanesque shape. Further, the changes to the materials comprising the exterior driveways and paths imbue the building with an ‘over restored appearance’. These changes are nevertheless considered appropriate adaptations for modern usage.


Saint Columba’s Church was built in 1936-37 on land which the Catholic Church had owned in South Perth since the late 1880s. Until then a small band of priests and nuns served the very large Victoria Park parish which had been created in 1896 and then covered the area from South Perth to the present day Belmont. The Sisters of Mercy extended their mission into the South Perth area some time early in the century, with the work of Catholic education actually taking place in private homes. Around 1905 South Perth was given parish
status and a convent was established in South Perth. In 1914 the architect RJ Dennehy sold his residence to the Order for £3,000. (Refer Pl No. SPCnt 1 Dennehy House - Saint Joseph’s Convent).
In 1917 Father Raphael Pace became the first parish priest of the official South Perth parish. By 1932 Father John McMahon was in charge, and after a visit to California, he was inspired by the work of the Spanish Franciscan Friar-missionary, Fr Junipero Serra, who created a network of missions along the Californian coast.
Back in Western Australia, architect E Le B Henderson modified some aspects of the ‘mission style’ in drawing up plans for a new church in South Perth, to be known as Saint Columba’s Church. The design was a complete departure from local ecclesiastical architecture. The foundation stone was laid in December 1936,
and the opening took place just 16 weeks later.
About fifty years later a parish centre was built on the site, as part of Saint Columba’s 50th anniversary celebrations.




Very Good


Name Type Year From Year To
E. Le B. Henderson Architect - -

Place Type

Individual Building or Group


Epoch General Specific
Original Use RELIGIOUS Church, Cathedral or Chapel
Present Use RELIGIOUS Church, Cathedral or Chapel

Architectural Styles

Inter-War Romanesque

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Wall BRICK Rendered Brick
Roof TILE Terracotta Tile

Historic Themes

General Specific

Creation Date

08 Jun 2002

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

01 Jan 2017


This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.