SFX CATHEDRAL PRECINCT PROJECT
The Catholic Diocese of Geraldton plans to undertake a major multi-faceted project to restore, conserve and enhance the iconic, heritage listed St Francis Xavier Cathedral and its precinct.
The building that commenced in 1916, first opened in 1918, and was completed in 1938 at a time of great hardship in Australia, is recognized as an extremely important Architectural icon. It was designed by the internationally renowned priest-architect, Monsignor John Hawes. Due to the difficult economic times in which it was built, it was never finished to original specifications. Substitutions were made for expediency, including asbestos roofing to the famous dome in place of metal as designed. The cathedral is now showing signs of deterioration from weather and usage.
A prominent heritage architect, John Taylor, has prepared plans for exterior and interior restoration, plus a new Monsignor Hawes Heritage Centre on the site.
This Heritage Centre will include a café as well as a Museum. This museum will display the historic collection of memorabilia and artifacts related to the life and works of Monsignor Hawes.
The Heritage Centre will also serve as a gateway to around 23 Monsignor Hawes buildings located from Carnarvon to Bindoon. The café and surrounding landscaped areas will serve as a much needed social hub in the central civic precinct as well as providing a source of revenue to contribute to the Museum’s operating budget and ultimately help fund a grants scheme to reinvest in the heritage of Monsignor Hawes.
PROJECT SCOPE OF WORKS
This project will cover the restoration of the Cathedral building, the construction of a new Monsignor Hawes Heritage Centre on the Cathedral property, and the landscaping and beautification of the Cathedral grounds to include a Mid-West Wildflower garden.
The Cathedral Precinct Project Committee has received overwhelming support from members of the Mid-West community and to date has raised $2.8m in pledges and donations. Political leaders, Council staff, other tourist groups and community members in general have expressed their support for the project.
The Cathedral currently receives at least 20,000 visits a year from tourists. It is an extremely important entry statement to all visitors arriving to Geraldton by road and it is hoped that undertaking the Project in its entirety will significantly expand tourism infrastructure and the tourism offering in the City of Geraldton and beyond.
The full project budget is approximately $8.0 million. The CPP committee has launched a capital fundraising campaign for $3m for the Project and to date has raised $2.8m. The State Government, through the Royalties for Regions Mid West Investment Plan, has committed to $1.54m and Lotterywest has granted $651,00 for the Museum fit-out and the Plaza area. In June 2016 the Federal Government pledged $3m for the SFX Cathedral Precinct Project. This will enable the CPP committee to complete the project as planned.
Building Timeline for Centenary
2016 will mark the centenary of the laying of the foundation stone of the Cathedral. It was anticipated that this project would be completed in time to celebrate this upcoming milestone, however it is now expected that all works will be completed in 2017.