Saving the Friary

posted Oct 9, 2018, 4:41 PM by Ian Ross   [ updated Oct 9, 2018, 4:45 PM ]
Why should we care?  The proposed sale of the Friary would free up funds for the Anglican church which will no doubt be put to good use in paying salaries, bills and other inevitable costs.  Why then, should we care if the sale goes ahead?  The same question arises in every case where the members of a community have to choose between preserving part of their environment as opposed to generating funds to do other things.  In general, the preservation of our heritage is not sufficiently pressing and it is lost, and this is natural when the generation of the new requires the loss of the old.  Brisbane, in particular, has a largely modern character because of the destruction of heritage sites over the last 50-60 years.  In the case of Kenmore in particular, little remains of the rural community of the 1950s.

But it is nonetheless to put forward the case for saving specific parts of the community for heritage purposes.  The loss of a field to become a housing estate rarely draws concern from the community - it is business as usual.  But the loss of significant sites which have been in community use for a century or more is a different question.  Australia is a young country, and unlike Europe - where buildings from many hundreds of years ago are commonplace - we need to try to preserve our oldest sites for future generations. Every age brings a further loss of heritage, so that in a hundred years more, very little remains.  Add to that the depredations of fire, decay, politics and conflict, and even in Europe many treasures have been lost forever.  The preservation of heritage sites throughout the centuries requires advocates and custodians in every age.

In the case of the Friary, its loss has implications for ages into the future, and not just for the short term gains of a developer.  If we do not try to preserve it, we will end up with the kind of soulless wasteland that characterises many of our modern Australian cities and demeans our urban experience.

For the Anglican church in particular, the existence of an island of green space and meditation within the Brisbane area is a resource which can be re-purposed for the needs of the church over generations to come.  The current phase of legal bills, the growth mentality and the current psychology of "business speak" which sees churches as "providers" and congregations as "clients" will pass.  When it does, when the church redefines and broadens itself and its mission, what will remain of places like the Old Friary when they are needed?