Old St Mary’s, Port Douglas

now called St Mary’s By The Sea

Please note: St Mary’s by the Sea is not a Catholic church; we do not use it for baptisms or weddings. We use our own St Mary’s Church, at 2 Endeavour Street.

The claims about the history in most publications and at St Mary’s By the Sea itself are wrong. The facts are given here in brief, but more can be read in the big screen version (link below).

1878: chapel

A chapel was built first, by the laity, near the northern end of Murphy Street in 1878. It was blessed and opened that year by Fr Cherubino de Romanis. In 1883 Fr Joachim Guerrini had it moved to beside the new church (see next) as the priest’s house.

1881-1911: 1st St Mary’s

Fr Peter Bucas was resident priest when the first St Mary’s Church was built near the corner of Murphy and Grant Streets. He opened it in February or March 1881 (not 1880). It and the former chapel were destroyed by cyclone on 16 March 1911. A new presbytery (priest’s house) was promptly built from salvaged timber, and it served as a chapel until the new church was built in 1914.

Photo in 1888

1914-1988: 2nd St Mary’s

Work started on a new and much smaller church three years after the cyclone. It was built in the same location as the first, and was opened on 30 August 1914. It was never called St Augustine’s.

Photo about 1916

In 1975 the parish decided the old church was too small for its future needs. The old church was to be moved and preserved in an historical village; it was never threatened with demolition. When plans failed the parish donated it to the Port Douglas Restoration Society for relocation and preservation. The church was descomissioned in 1988, and the land was sold.

1989: Old St Mary’s, by the Sea

In November 1989, after much renovation, the Society opened the old church under the name of St Mary’s by the Sea, a name which as ever since caused confusion with our parish church, St Mary’s. The Society has never even acknowledged the parish as the donor.

Home page Full story (big screen)