A devout Catholic, Henry Hunter was a prominent architect in Hobart from 1855 until 1888, when he moved to Brisbane. From 1888 to 1892, Hunter was in partnership with his former pupil, L.G. Corrie and his son, Walter. Hunter and Corrie were responsible for additions to All Hallows Convent in 1890-92, and Eulalia, now included in Earlystreet Historical Village. Henry Hunter was in partnership with his son from March 1892 until his death later that year, before the church was constructed.
From the 1860s to the advent of the railway, the Chelmer/Graceville area consisted mostly of small crop farms. Following the opening of the railway from Ipswich to Sherwood in February 1875, which dramatically reduced the isolation of the area, farmland in the area was subdivided and sold as residential estates. Further residential development took place after World War I with the establishment of war service homes in the area. By the 1920s, Graceville was well established as a residential suburb noted for its gardens and neat homes. As the population grew, schools and churches were constructed to meet the needs of the local community. In 1928, the Graceville State School opened with around 300 pupils. Christ the King was one of two churches to open at Graceville in 1930. The Methodist church (now Graceville Uniting), designed by Walter Taylor, also opened in that year.
In the early years of this century, the Catholic community at Graceville celebrated mass in the homes of local families, including the Careys of Sherwood, and the McLaughlins at Corinda. Later mass was celebrated in the Corinda School of Arts until St Joseph's Church was built at Corinda in 1912. In 1928, Archbishop Duhig met with the parish priest of Corinda and several Graceville residents to arrange the purchase of land for the purposes of constructing a church. No money was available at the time, but despite the depressed economic conditions, arrangements were made to purchase the site of the present church. Father Wheeler was appointed to the Chelmer/Graceville district in early 1930 and mass was celebrated in the Chelmer School of Arts and, later, the Graceville Scout Hall. Negotiations were made to purchase the Church of St Michael and the Holy Souls at Toowong for £500.
The Church of St Michael and the Holy Souls was constructed in 1893 at a cost of approximately £1,400 in Holland Street, Toowong. It served the Catholic community there for almost forty years before it became too small to accommodate the rapidly expanding population of the Toowong area. In 1930, the new church of St Ignatius Layola was opened on Toowong Ridge and the old church was dismantled and moved to Graceville at a cost of £435. It was transported through Taringa and across the Brisbane River at Indooroopilly by ferry. After the church was assembled on the new site at Graceville, it was repainted and refurnished, and a new room built at the rear of the church.
The opening and blessing of the renovated church took place on 19 October 1930. The name of Christ the King was suggested by Duhig, who returned to celebrate Mass on the feast of Christ the King one week after opening the church. The feast was instituted a few years previously by Pope Pius XI, and the Graceville Church was the first in Australia to receive this patronage. Duhig emphasised in his address at the opening that it was the church's duty to provide facilities which enabled people to worship in their own district, particularly in suburbs such as Graceville where some residents lived two miles from a train station. He urged the congregation to agitate for a bridge at Indooroopilly to alleviate this problem.
The congregation of Graceville had overcome considerable financial hurdles to obtain a local church. They commenced moves to purchase land for a church before any funds were available in a time of severe economic depression, and by the time of the church's opening some two years later, had reduced the debt on the land from £196/16/11 to £16/5/10. The total cost of purchasing, transporting and refurbishing the church increased the debt to £1,286. A sum of £120 was collected at the opening ceremony but due to the impact of the Depression on local families, some promises of donations of furniture were not able to be honoured. Dances at the Scout Hall were held to raise money to fence the church, but funds raised were used to pay outstanding debts on altar requisites. Various fundraising ventures, including fetes, tennis parties, balls and bridge and euchre evenings, were held throughout the 1930s and 1940s to clear the debt. These functions also fulfilled a social role in the local community.
Several improvements have been made to the site since the opening of the church. In 1934, land adjacent to the church was purchased and a house erected under the State Advances Corporation to serve as a presbytery. This building, which remains on the site, was handed to the Presentation Sisters in 1937 when they arrived to take charge of the newly opened parish school. Once again, Father Wheeler lived in the vestry of the church or with parishioners until a presbytery was purchased in 1950. Rapid growth in the parish during the 1950s necessitated additions and renovations to the church. The new additions were blessed and opened by Duhig on 5 September 1954. The increase in population in the area also saw the original school building become inadequate. It was demolished and replaced by a modern complex in 1966, and opened by Archbishop O'Donnell.
The Church of Christ the King is significant as the centre of the Catholic community at Graceville since 1930, continuing a tradition of Catholic worship in the Chelmer/Graceville area which dates from the turn of the century when mass was held in private homes. It also represents the determination of the local community to erect a church, and subsequently a school, in their district, and the support of the Catholic hierarchy, particularly Archbishop Duhig, in achieving this aim.