St George Greek Orthodox Church at Rose Bay in Sydney’s leafy Eastern Suburbs is now officially to be heritage listed after a planning proposal, which was recently endorsed by Woollahra Council’s Environmental Planning Committee following extensive public consultation, was finally approved by the full Council at its meeting held on 12 February.
By 10 votes to 4, Woollahra Councillors overwhelmingly voted to adopt the Planning Proposal to list the St George Greek Orthodox Church and war memorial complex and setting, including interiors and moveable relics at 90-92 Newcastle Street, Rose Bay, as a local heritage item in Schedule 5 and on the Heritage Maps of the Woollahra Local Environmental Plan 2014.
The motion to adopt the proposal was moved by the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Sarah Swan, and seconded by Councillor Susan Wynne (the immediate past Mayor). It received strong cross-party support from some members of the Liberal Party, the Greens, the Residents First group and a local Independent.
The significance of this decision cannot be overstated. The church, which was built in 1962, has played a pivotal role in the lives of the local Greek community as a place of worship and as a war memorial complex.
This means that the church complex, including Orthodox moveable relics, will be registered as a local heritage item on the NSW State Heritage Register.
The church’s statement of heritage significance will officially read:
The St George Greek Orthodox Church and war memorial is of local heritage significance for its historical, associative, aesthetic, social, rarity and representative values. The church reflects the rapid pattern of development of Rose Bay in the post-World War I era and the growing presence of migrant communities that settled in the area during this time. Since its construction and consecration in 1962, the church building has supported the continuity and celebration of Greek customs and traditions in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs for generations of that community. Designed by prominent Inter-War architectural firm Fowell, Mansfield & Maclurcan, the St George Greek Orthodox Church is considered to be a fine and representative example of their ecclesiastical buildings. The church building is an interesting example of a Greek Orthodox War Memorial Church, which combines elements of the Byzantine style typically associated with ANZAC memorials with the traditional Greek Orthodox Church style. As a Greek Orthodox war memorial church, the St George Greek Orthodox Church has significance for its associations with Australia’s defence history, commemorating members of Australia’s Greek community who served and lost their lives in during World War I and World War II, and Australian soldiers who fought in Greece during World War I. There is only one other known example of this type of Greek Orthodox war memorial church remaining in Sydney.
The Greek Herald actively reported on the church’s heritage journey and is proud to have helped inform the community, with a feature article supporting the heritage listing included in Woollahra Council’s public exhibition and community consultation programs.
The St George Church at Rose Bay is a “magnificent sacred edifice”, to quote Father Militiadis Chryssavgis who conducted the first ever liturgy at the church and went on to serve the parish dutifully for almost fifty years.
It is indeed a heritage worth preserving.