The Victorian Government Gazette 46, Wednesday, August 3rd 1853, p1077 (1.4mb PDF), announces the establishment of an official place of worship in Fitzroy. The Christian Israelite Church on Fitzroy St was completed in 1861 and is still in use today. I’m not sure if it was the first place of worship in Fitzroy. St Mark’s Anglican church on George St was commenced in 1853, when the Fitzroy St site (if not the current building) was already in use, and completed in 1855.

israelite1 Fitzroy history - one of Fitzroy's first places of worship

According to Heritage Victoria, the church’s “blocked windows and roof lanterns are distinctive to the Christian Israelite Church, being symbolic of Noah’s Ark.” I find them rather spooky, and previously interpreted the windows rather more severely as symbolic of the need to ignore the impure material world outside.

israelite3 Fitzroy history - one of Fitzroy's first places of worship

fitzroychurch Fitzroy history - one of Fitzroy's first places of worship

The announcement in the Victorian Government Gazette 46, Wednesday, August 3rd 1853

israelite2 Fitzroy history - one of Fitzroy's first places of worship

I am not sure what premises were used for worship on the site prior to the completion of the church in 1861. None of the official records mention whether, for example, a simpler wooden building stood on this site in the period c1853-1860.

The church’s own site says (confusingly) that the church met in Collingwood before the current church was completed in Fitzroy in 1861. But prior to when Fitzroy became a municipality in September 1858, the broader area that is now Fitzroy, Collingwood and Abbotsford was officially called ‘Collingwood’.

As the Gazette makes clear, the church community has been meeting on Fitzroy St since 1853. Between then and the completion of the church, the municipality of Fitzroy became a separate entity to the rest of Collingwood. Does anyone know more about the early years of the church?

Fitzroy history – one of Fitzroy’s first places of worship

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