This Catholic presbytery was built in 1928 for Father Brady after the local farming community organised the removal of a church at Nundah to this site on St Vincents Road. St Pius School was later constructed in 1947 to meet the needs of the growing population, which had occurred as the Banyo/Nudgee farming district became urbanised in the postwar period. The school and presbytery have served as a religious and social centre for the Banyo Catholic community for decades, while the original church was destroyed by arson in 1976.
The site occupied by St Pius School and Presbytery is on land that was originally purchased by John Kingsford on 21 December 1863. Kingsford bought 26 acres and 32 perches of farmland described as Portion 210 in the Parish of Toombul. St Vincents Road was already in existence at that time as it formed one of the boundaries of Kingsford’s land. William Bulcock Robinson became the new owner of this property on 27 August 1880. On 12 July 1881, Robinson had 1 acre, 1 rood and 31.75 perches of his land resumed by the Commissioner of Railways for the construction of the rail line to Sandgate.
This left Robinson with 23 acres, 2 roods and 37.25 perches of land. On 20 March 1883, Robinson obtained a mortgage of ₤300 on his property through the Brisbane Permanent Building and Investment Society. It is assumed that Robinson used this mortgage to finance the building of a residence on his farm that he had named “Pinesville”. Typical of the small crop farms that dotted the Banyo/Nudgee area, ‘Pinesville” produced vegetables, including sweet potatoes together with fruit. The farm’s major crop was pineapples and so a small cannery was established on Red Hill Road on the site now occupied by the school’s pool. Robinson died on 19 May 1930. The fig tree situated at the corner of Apperley Street and St Vincents Road may be the only remnant left from “Pinesville”.
On 22 July 1927, Brisbane’s Catholic Archbishop James Duhig purchased 15 acres and 3.8 perches of “Pinesville”. On the same day he purchased some land from a neighbouring farm belonging to Andrew McFarlane so that the total site encompassed 17 acres. Soon after, a disused timber church at Buckland Road, Nundah was moved up to the land at Banyo. This little church had been erected in 1904 but had been superseded by a newer brick church in Bage Street, Nundah. The local residents, mostly farmers, had raised £260 to cover the £397 cost of the removal and re-erection of the church in Banyo. The first Catholic Church in Banyo was given the name St Pius. Archbishop Duhig blessed the church on 11 September 1927. Reverend Father Bolton conducted the first mass at St Pius Church that day. The fact that the church had been brought to Banyo even before the area had been declared a Catholic parish, as evidence of “the enthusiasm of the people of that era and would have encouraged any priest to work here."1
The first parish priest sent to St Pius Church was the Reverend Dean Brady. Archbishop Duhig appointed him on 5 February 1928. The old Robinson farmhouse was demolished and a presbytery for Brady was erected at the corner of Red Hill Road and St Vincents Road. An examination of the Brisbane City Council’s pre-1946 building records does not reveal an exact date for the presbytery’s construction. It can be seen in the 1946 aerial photograph of Banyo. But the Reverend Patrick Brady is listed as a resident of Banyo for the first time in the 1929-30 edition of the Queensland Post Office Directory, so it is assumed that the presbytery was built sometime around 1928.
Brady retired in 1945 and died in 1951. His replacement was Reverend Father Vince Carroll. Carroll foresaw the redevelopment of the Banyo/Nudgee area from small farms into housing estates and he pushed for the establishment of a Catholic primary school for his parish. Prior to this the local children had attended the school that was part of St Vincents Orphanage at Nudgee and more recently they were attending St Joseph’s School at Nundah. St Pius School was built on Apperley Road during 1946. The builder was Fleming Brothers. Archbishop Duhig officially opened the school on 16 March 1947. As the school was not completed in time for the commencement of the 1947 school year, the first classes were held both inside and under the Presbytery building. St Pius School, the first Catholic school built in the Banyo/Nudgee District drew students from as far away as Northgate, Virginia and Nudgee Beach. A bus was used to deliver these and other pupils to the school. When not in use, the bus was parked under the Presbytery. The school’s staff was drawn from the Order of the sisters of St Joseph, who were the only Australian teaching order of nuns. As a result, a convent for the sisters was built on the site in 1948.
In 1952, Father Carroll transferred to Kingaroy and he was replaced with Reverend Father Wheeler. After Wheeler died in 1953, Reverend Father Landener was appointed to the parish in 1954. He resigned due to ill health in 1966 and Reverend Father Kiley became the next parish priest. Additions were made to the school building in 1947 and 1953. A pool was erected in the school in 1964 at a cost of £6,240. A new classroom block with a library costing $98,000 was added to the site in 1971. Sadly, an arson attack destroyed St Pius Church on 16 March 1976, though Father Kiley and Sister Brenda managed to rescue some items from the fire. A new building, the Church of the Holy Trinity, was erected on the site as a replacement. Archbishop Francis Rush consecrated this new church on 29 May 1977. After Father Kiley retired, Reverend Father McCarthy replaced him.
The presbytery is a high set, timber-clad structure with a corrugated iron roof. The building has wide eaves and spacious front porch/verandahs in the fashion of the Californian Bungalow style.
Although the verandahs have been later enclosed and some alterations have been carried out, the building still retains most of its integrity and most of its original lead-light glazing to the windows, internal doors and entry door.
Statement of significance
Relevant assessment criteria
This is a place of local heritage significance and meets one or more of the local heritage criteria under the Heritage planning scheme policy of the Brisbane City Plan 2014. It is significant because:
The place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of the city's or local area’s history
as an interwar presbytery built to service the spiritual needs of the Banyo/Nudgee farming communities; and, as a primary school built to meet the population growth and urbanisation of Banyo and Nudgee in the postwar period.
The place has a strong or special association with the life or work of a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons
as a church and school site that has provided for the spiritual and educational needs of the local Banyo/Nudgee community.
Kiley, Vincent P., Banyo Catholic Church 1927-1977 Gold Jubilee Pictorial History, (Brisbane: Kiley, 1977) p.10