Toodyay's Roman Catholic Church Group has been recognised as an important historical and religious landmark and is now included on the State Register of Heritage Places.
The group of buildings in WA has been used for various religious purposes over the years and to this day remains a strong architectural presence on Toodyay's main street.
It includes what is known locally as 'The Ship', a two-storey Victorian Georgian style brick and shingle house built in the 1860s by Toodyay's resident Medical Officer, Colonial Surgeon Dr Arthur Growse.
In 1902, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Perth purchased 'The Ship' and a neighbouring property for use as a girl's boarding school by the Sisters of Mercy, Australia's first religious order dedicated to teaching.
The convent building, Mercy House was built in 1903 and additional boarding facilities were constructed in the 1920s to meet growing demand. This included a boy's combined school and dormitory building, St Aloysius House, and an additional girl's dormitory, O'Connor House.
The Sisters of Mercy occupied the place until 1983 as their convent residence; place of worship and school, and as a base for religious education programs and school camps.
From 1997 to 2017, the buildings were home to a small number of Franciscan friars known as Franciscans of the Immaculate.
“Beyond its physical heritage importance, Toodyay’s Roman Catholic Church Group has helped the town develop a strong sense of community,” says heritage minister David Templeman.
“It is greatly valued by Toodyay and the wider community as a historical landmark and a long-term religious and educational institution, as a place of prayer and spiritual guidance for parishioners, and by generations of former boarders and their families.”
“The heritage listing of this beautiful and remarkable group of buildings will ensure that these landmarks are enjoyed into perpetuity,” adds Agricultural region MLC Darren West.