Friday, December 11, 2009

Renaming places of reverance

This is the Avondale Baptist Church, first main landmark in Avondale once the Oakley Creek is crossed (down underneath the road) as one travels up New North Road to the intersection with Bockhouse Bay Road. Photo was taken within a bus. I'd never have had that angle otherwise.

Here is the intersection adjacent to the church ...


... so someone made the decision to call the church now The Intersection. It's been that way about a year, now. The name Avondale Baptist Church isn't gone, though, it's just in smaller lettering near the bottom of the sign.

Now, I'm not religious, and I don't belong to any religious denomination. Folks could say, therefore, that I'm being a bit picky, and also that churches have the right to call themselves whatever they like. But -- even if you let history go, geography surely will come along and tap you on the shoulder, reminding you of one thing: sense of place is key. Folks like saying "I go to [Place] [Denomination] Church". It's also easier when explaining to someone where your church is. Well, at least that's my opinion.

The George Maxwell Memorial Cemetery suffers from the same problem. Recently, a much-loved member of my historical society died. Her funeral notices all stated she was to be buried at Rosebank Cemetery, a name which hasn't officially existed for the last couple of decades or so because the local Anglican Church decided to name their cemetery on Rosebank Road after the late custodian of the cemetery. Again, yes -- they have the right to name their plot of land whatever they feel like naming it. The good lady who passed away, though, never called it anything except Rosebank Cemetery, where she now lies in peace next to her beloved husband who died in the 1980s, from before the renaming. Even a columnist in the Western Leader just a couple of weeks ago referred to the cemetery as Orchard Street cemetery (not silly, as the entry to the corner site is off Orchard Street), rather than its official, signposted name. Why? Because a lot of people out West now where Rosebank Road is, and Orchard Street possibly -- but there are still queries of "Where?" when George Maxwell Memorial Cemetery is mentioned.

Then again, before Rosebank became so well established as a sub-district name from the 1920s or so, folks called it the Avondale Cemetery. Times, and names, do change ...

A brief history of our Avondale Baptist Church (taken from History of the Avondale Baptist Church at the 75th Anniversary, 1926 to 2001, by Dr. Stan Edgar and Burt Turley):

11 October 1925
More than 80 people gathered at the section near the corner of the intersection to a meeting regarding the building of the church on the site purchased earlier that year.

5 December 1925
Foundation stone laid.

21 March 1926
Opening services. The building's original architects were Holman and Moses, and the superintendent of work was Mt Albert builder (and fellow Baptist) J. A. Penman.

February 1931
Sunday School hall building begins.

Early 1960s
The church was enlarged, the New North Road frontage starting to look the way it does today.

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