Although much of the land in Annerley had been surveyed and mapped prior to separation in 1859 and several large holdings established, it was not until the 1890s that the first residential estates in the immediate vicinity of the site on which Mary Immaculate now stands were developed. Over the next thirty years residential development of the area continued, accompanied by the provision of urban amenities, public transport, and other community facilities. The increasing local population established places of worship reflecting the importance of religious practices in their lives.
Among the earliest of the churches to be erected in the locality now known as Annerley were the Presbyterian Church in the Thompson Estate and the Annerley Methodist Church in Ipswich Road. It was not until 1912 that land was purchased to provide for the spiritual and educational needs of the growing number of Catholics in the vicinity. Prior to the opening of Mary Immaculate at Annerley, Catholic residents of the community had attended St Joseph's Catholic Church at Kangaroo Point, or taken the tram to St Stephen's Cathedral in the city. The Catholic community in Annerley was part of the parish of Coorparoo under the care of Father O'Leary until Ipswich Road became a separate parish in 1916.
Moves to establish a Catholic Church in the area were led by Walter Freney, W.J. de Lange and Lionel Mellish who approached Archbishop Duhig on behalf of the increasingly large Catholic community in the area, stressing "the long distance to St Joseph's Church, Kangaroo Point, over which they had to walk every Sunday morning to attend Mass." Duhig bought the property in October 1912 for £700. It was his first purchase of land after being appointed Coadjutor to Archbishop Dunne. That first timber church/school was dedicated 14 June 1914 by Archbishop Duhig, the foundation stone having been laid on 23 September 1913. Constructed at a cost of £2,010, the church was built by E. Dahlke to the plans of G. Trotter, Jr, architect. C.W. Lyon completed the painting of the interior.
In 1916, Father James Gallagher was appointed resident priest of the new parish. On 11 February 1917, the convent adjacent to the church and the presbytery on the other side of Ipswich Road were opened by Archbishops Duhig and Mannix. Both buildings had been purchased the previous year by Duhig. The original timber church/school and convent are no longer on the site.
The first church on the site was primarily built to provide a Catholic school for the Annerley area, and was intended to serve only temporarily as a church. In 1929, Father James Kelly was appointed parish priest with instructions from Archbishop Duhig to build a church. Father Kelly would remain in this position for 41 years. The parish finances at that time were £2,095 in credit. The new church was to be built in memory of Father Gallagher, who served as parish priest until his death in 1924. The present Mary Immaculate church was designed in the French Gothic style and constructed at a cost of approximately £9,400 by Mr Freeman of the Marberete Company, who donated the foundation stone. The foundation stone was laid by Archbishop Duhig on October 11, 1931 in the presence of 27 priests of the archdiocese. The Archbishop returned on 1 May 1932 to dedicate and officially open the church.
That this church was built at the height of the 1930s depression is testimony to the determination of this parish to construct a substantial place of worship. At the time of the church's opening, £5,300 towards the total cost of £10,500 was in hand. A further £560 was collected at the opening ceremony, a significant sum during a period of such severe hardship. Socials and other fundraising functions were held in the parish to help clear the remaining debt on the church. The construction of the church provided work for 30 men representing a conscious effort by the Catholic Church to help alleviate unemployment.
A new £16,000 brick presbytery was built in 1961, under the direction of parish priest, Monsignor James Kelly. This solved the problem of busy traffic separating the priest’s residence from the church. A convent has been erected adjacent to the new presbytery, and a new church hall built facing Ipswich Road. A particularly strong commitment to education has been a benchmark of this parish, with the Sisters of St Joseph playing an important role in the parish school. A new two-storey primary school building, also designed by Jack Donoghue, was completed in 1955. Secondary education commenced for the first time at the school in July 1964 with the opening of a new secondary school classroom block designed by architects Frank L Cullen, Fagg, Hargraves and Mooney. The new school was erected on land adjoining the existing church property purchased by Monsignor Kelly.
In the years since the construction of the present Mary Immaculate Church, the parish has continued to expand and to serve the Catholic community of Annerley, continuing a tradition of worship and education on the site of some eighty years.