The morning of the Thursday 24th December 1931
was not unlike any other Christmas Eve. Whether those passengers crammed into
buses and trams had already completed their Christmas shopping, this was a day
when many residents of Port Elizabeth would make that trip to Main Street to
experience the thrill and excitement of this special day.
Instead many would witness a tragedy which would blunt
their enthusiasm and joy over the festive season.
Main picture: St Mary’s Church in 1931 showing the businesses on Main Street being demolished
Given that there are no longer any residents who live in close proximity to the church, there are few parking facilities in the area and there are hardly any parishioners who attend regularly, what is the future prognosis of this icon of Port Elizabeth? Naturally, I am biased because my great-great-grandfather was its first pastor but is society in general not able to appreciate that this building is integral to the history of Port Elizabeth.
It will serve Port Elizabeth well to remember that it is not a church, probably in dire financial difficulties, that has to be saved, but a treasure of the city itself.
This blog is the history of this institution.
Main picture: St. Mary’s after being reconstructed in 1896 but before the construction of the UBS building in Main Street