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Geraldton heritage centre honours architect-priest

Jul 05, 2017

Image of Monsignor Hawes Heritage Centre interior interpretation displayImage of Monsignor Hawes Heritage Centre exterior shot

Few people have left such a vast legacy of their work in WA as architect-priest Monsignor John Hawes who designed many buildings, particularly in the Mid West.

And now people can find out more about the man and his many achievements through the new $3 million Monsignor Hawes Heritage Centre.

The centre is located next to St Francis Xavier Cathedral in Geraldton, the distinctive Spanish mission style cathedral that Monsignor Hawes designed. Here, visitors can view diaries and personal records, and get an insight to his personal thoughts.

They can also see some of Hawes’s original drawings and documents that wouldn’t otherwise be seen due to their delicate nature.

The heritage centre includes an interpretive centre, café/restaurant and an associated piazza, and is part of the wider $9 million Geraldton Cathedral Precinct Project.

It also serves as the gateway to the Monsignor Hawes Heritage Trail.

In accepting the interpretation award, Father Robert Cross paid tribute to Monsignor Hawes’ prolific output.

“He designed some 44 buildings in his 25 years in the diocese of Geraldton, half of which were built,” Father Cross said.

“They are peppered from Bindoon up to Carnarvon, and out to Mullewa and Perenjori and Morawa.”

Just as extraordinary are the five churches he built in the Bahamas after he left Geraldton, and where he retired to then live the life of a hermit.

The awards judges said the state-of-the-art interpretive centre within the grounds of the Geraldton Cathedral Precinct captures the life, history and artefacts of Monsignor Hawes.

“The contemporary and accessible exhibition uses Hawes’ own words, taken from his extensive records, drawings and diary entries to tell his story,” they said.

“Visitors to the Monsignor Hawes Heritage Centre are invited into Hawes' personal memories as they learn about the important influence this priest and architect had through the Mid West and Gascoyne communities.”

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