What is significant? The complex in Albert Street, East Melbourne, now known as Mary MacKillop House, was first established as a Providence for homeless and unemployed women in 1902 by the Order of the Sisters of St Joseph. The Order was established at Penola, South Australia in 1866 by Mary MacKillop and Father Julian Tenison Woods. Mary MacKillop was born in 1842 in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy and died in 1909 after a lifetime devoted to the Catholic faith. In recognition of her service, she was beatified in 1995 by Pope John Paul II, signifying that she can be honoured in the future as the first saint in Australia. The site of her birth place has been recognised as being of heritage significance in Victoria, despite the original house being demolished (Dodgshun House, H1706).
One of the priorities of the Josephite Sisters was to provide disadvantaged Catholic children with a Christian education and Mary MacKillop travelled throughout Australasia to establish schools, convents and charitable institutions. The first Providence was established at Penola, South Australia in 1868. Providences depended solely on the Providence of God for their support, with the Sisters actively begging for funds and encouraging residents to contribute financially if able. The first Josephite foundation in Victoria was established in 1890 and the first Providence in the State was established the following year as a relief centre, located at 45-47 Latrobe Street, Melbourne. Two further relocations occurred before the first purpose built Providence was constructed at 362 Albert Street, East Melbourne.
Mary MacKillop organised the funding to purchase a property near St Patrick's Cathedral for this permanent Providence. Although a suitable building was not located, vacant land at 362 Albert Street, East Melbourne was available, and by September 1901, Mary MacKillop had organised the deposit of £100 and directed the sale to proceed. A two storey red brick Providence building was designed by Austin and Keogh of Bendigo and completed in 1902. This simple hip roofed building incorporates a double storey verandah to three sides, which was originally adorned with decorative cast ironwork. The front facade incorporates paired windows placed symmetrically either side of entrances at both levels, and the original building contained a small chapel extending to the east at ground level.
An increase in demand for safe accommodation for young Catholic women resulted in the Sisters of St Joseph purchasing the adjoining property at 348 Albert Street in 1920. This site contained a two storey house built in 1871 to a Leonard Terry design. Constructed as a two storey town house with front verandah, side carriageway and side main entrance, this building has a rendered, parapeted front facade, and contains three symmetrically placed windows at both levels and a convex verandah at ground level. The first floor windows incorporate decorative cast iron railings and a decorative frieze is placed above the verandah.
The provision of accommodation changed over the years to a less permanent type for women requiring board while attending university or college or working in the city, and this was reflected in the name change from Providence to Hostel in 1948. The buildings continued to provide accommodation for women of various needs until 1996 and was renamed Mary MacKillop House in 1997. The Sisters of St Joseph became the only occupants at this time.
The first substantial work to the buildings was undertaken in 1921, the year after the purchase of the 1871 building. The architect, A. A. Fritsch, designed a two storey wing to the east side of the rear of 362 Albert Street, containing a refectory at ground level and bedrooms upstairs. At 348 Albert Street the arches of the carriageway to the west of the building were filled in and three rooms created internally. The verandah floor was raised at this time and the verandah roof extended over the former carriageway. New sections of brick fence were constructed to Albert Street.
In 1926 the architect, T. A. Payne, designed extensions to the chapel sanctuary at 362 Albert Street, extending it to the east, and adding an adjacent sacristy to the south and infirmary to the north.
In 1935 additions and alterations were made by the architect, Thomas J. Power. At 362 Albert Street, these included small additions to the nuns' refectory on the west side of the building, the construction of a scullery adjacent to the boarders' refectory to the east, and a small room added to the east of the sacristy. Modifications were made to the kitchen area and at 348 Albert Street, modifications were made to bathroom areas.
In 1965 architects Robertson and Summers added a single storey wing to the north of 362 Albert Street and a two storey bedroom wing replaced the single storey laundry wing to the north of 348 Albert Street. The first floor link between the two buildings was also constructed in 1965.
As well as these additions, numerous alterations have been made to the buildings including the partitioning of bedrooms and the removal of the wall between the chapel and front room and its replacement with a glazed partition (since replaced again with a solid partition). The first floor balcony of 362 Albert Street has been enclosed and all decorative cast iron removed from the double height verandah.
How is it significant? 348-362 Albert Street, East Melbourne is of social, historical and architectural significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant? 348-362 Albert Street, East Melbourne is historically and socially significant for its association with Mother Mary MacKillop, co-founder of the Order of the Sisters of Saint Joseph and beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995. MacKillop, a prominent figure in the Catholic community in Australia, founded the first Providence in the East Melbourne area and organised the purchase of the site, and design and construction of the first permanent Providence building in 1901-2. She remained involved in the work carried out at the East Melbourne Providence until her death in 1909. The development of the site demonstrates the work of the Sisters of St Joseph and their changing role in society.
The complex is socially significant as an example of a social welfare institution devoted specifically to the welfare of women. It reflects the social responsibility and Christian charity prevalent in society in the early 20th century.
The complex is historically significant as the first purpose built Providence of the Sisters of St Joseph in Victoria. Although it was the fourth Providence building to be used, it was the first owned by the Order and the first built specifically for this purpose. The purchase of the adjacent building in 1920 is indicative of the growth of the organisation. The site retains its use as a home and working facility for the Sisters of St Joseph.
348 Albert Street, East Melbourne is of architectural significance as a representative example of Victorian architecture, designed by prolific Melbourne architect, Leonard Terry. His many commissions included work for the Anglican Church as Diocesan Architect, several projects for the Catholic Church and over fifty bank branches in Australia and New Zealand. The 1902 building is of architectural significance as a purpose built residential and religious facility for the Sisters of St Joseph, with both requirements incorporated into the one building. The building is of interest for the intended lack of ornamentation and the adoption of a style which relates to the 1880s rather than the turn of the century. Both buildings contribute to the nineteenth century residential character of the area.