The Catholic Pastoral Centre of Our Lady of the Mission is located in the suburb of Highgate, Western Australia. The building was formerly the Sacred Heart Convent for the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions.
In 1892 Bishop Matthew Gibney, Bishop of Perth selected two acres from the Mount Heart Estate, Alacoque Square, for a new school and church. The French Order of Our Lady of the Missions was invited to establish the community. The Sisters began teaching the first group of 38 children on 25 October 1897 in a small iron clad building nearby. By the end of the first week 24 new students had enrolled and a piano had been purchased. Thus began the school’s long tradition of music education.
Architect Edgar Henderson designed the original Monastery and School of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in 1899. This originally comprised a parish (elementary) school on the ground floor and a high school and boarding school above, as well as accommodation for the Sisters.
Edgar Henderson’s son, Edgar Le B Henderson, designed the Primary School (now the pre-primary centre) in 1914, the Chapel and west wing in 1923 and further additions in the 1920s, 1930s and 1960’s. In the 1970s the upper years transferred to a new school site at Sorrento. By 1980 the school was occupied solely by primary school students.
By 2001 the Monastery had been vacated by the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions. In 2002, the 1914 building was refurbished as the ‘Early Childhood Education Centre’ for the School. In 2003 the 1899 building was refurbished for the joint use of the Archdiocese of Perth and Sacred Heart School.
The Archdiocese and School engaged Philip McAllister Architects for this conservation and redevelopment project. The Builder, Colgan Industries has worked on this project from June 2003 till February 2004 to bring it to completion.
The project has involved the conservation of the significant original Convent & School building and later additions as required by the Heritage Council & Town of Vincent approvals for the redevelopment. The building has been replanned to accommodate the new uses and new services and fire safety systems installed discretely to provide the latest technologies and facilities. New toilet, kitchen and staff facilities have been incorporated throughout the building. The North side of the building has been transformed with a new Covered Assembly area using timber and linings from the original building for the new roof structure. A new concrete ramp has also been included to provide disabled access to all levels of the School.
During the works a number of areas have been uncovered revealing finishes and colours of the building when originally built. These have been left exposed for public interpretation in various areas. The colour scheme of the building was based on paint scrapes revealing the original colours. The original pressed metal ceilings have been retained and repaired throughout the School and in the Catholic Pastoral Centre. The former Convent Dining Room, adjacent to the Chapel has been developed as a new Seminar Room for up to 90 people with all conference facilities. The beautiful Chapel, built as part of the 1923 additions, has been carefully repaired and original colours, furniture, statues and organ retained, repaired and reinstated to its original condition. It retains its simplicity and tranquillity as a focus for the new Catholic Pastoral Centre.
The School re-occupied the main building in October 2003. The west wing built in 1923 was refurbished as new offices for the Archdiocese. The Archdiocesan agencies moved from former offices at 459 Hay Street and opened the doors of the Catholic Pastoral Centre of Our Lady of the Mission in February 2004.
The Catholic Pastoral Centre of Our Lady of the Mission is part of the ‘Sacred Heart Group’ located at 40-42 Mary Street, Highgate, Western Australia. This group includes the former College, former Monastery and Church of the Sacred Heart.
The group is heritage listed under both the State Register of Heritage Places and the Town of Vincent Municipal Heritage Inventory. The former recognises and protects places of significance to Western Australia whilst the latter identifies places of importance to the local community.
Under the Town of Vincent Municipal Heritage Inventory, the Sacred Heart Group is listed as Management Category A. This means that the group is recognised as having the highest possible heritage significance within the Town of Vincent. Conservation is considered essential and any redevelopment needs to be in keeping with the cultural heritage significance of the place.
A number of awards have been presented for the conservation and redevelopment project of the former College and former Monastery including:
- Vincent HERITAGE Municipal Heritage Inventory Award – Building Design and Conservation Award 2005 – awarded to Philip McAllister Architects
- The Royal Australian Institute of Architects – Commendation Award in 2005 in the category ‘Heritage Council Conservation’ in recognition of a noteworthy standard of architectural merit in specific aspects
- One of the project builders, Mr Martin Colgan of Colgan Industries Pty Ltd, was awarded a Heritage Council Award in 2004 for his outstanding commitment and ongoing contribution to heritage conservation and interpretation in Western Australia. He was also appointed as one of the ‘Heritage Ambassadors’ by the Council in 2004.