Sunday, March 16, 2014

Once was an orphanage in Melbourne

from w
Yesterday I took photos at 1 Kent Rd Surrey Hills, and remembered its history as an orphanage set up with the intention of rescuing children from poverty. However  some of the stories I read on the web about a boy living there tell of cruelty and harsh treatment of the children. The chapel where we had a program yesterday was once stately with a very high ceiling. The whole place - a rabbit warren - has places of beauty such as the many colourful leadlight windows. However, remembering the history I did sense a disquiet though.

1890 - St Joseph’s Home for Destitute Children 
The 1889 great depression brought increased poverty to Melbourne expanding the need for the St Vincent de Paul program. In 1890 a permanent property became available in Surrey Hills with Mary MacKillop accepting the responsibility to pay for the property, care for the children and build a permanent Children’s Home. By 1907 the Sisters had raised enough funds for the large building which still stands. 

1925 - St Joseph’s Home for Boys Surrey Hills
From 1925 St Joseph’s concentrated on care for young boys; those who had outgrown ‘toddler care’ but were considered not old enough for the all-male environment offered at that time by the Christian Brothers. Numbers of State Wards and privately placed children increased during the depression of the 1930s resulting in overcrowding which continued during World War II.

1967 - St Joseph’s Children’s Home 
In the late 1960s, in order to keep brothers and sisters together, St Joseph’s welcomed girls as well as boys. Dormitories were converted into units with smaller bedrooms and self-contained living and dining areas. Most children attended local primary and secondary schools although a school on site was retained for those with particular educational needs. 
- See more at:

1984. The property was sold the Youth with the Mission in 1984 and revamped as an inter-denominational  training institution for Christian young people.


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