St Aidan's Orphanage, built in stages between 1903 and 1930, with buildings designed jointly and separately by the prominent firm of Reed, Smart and Tappin of Melbourne and architects Keogh and Austen of Bendigo, and is of State architectural and historical significance.
Historically, the complex is significant as the largest surviving orphanage building in Victoria and as one of the largest religious charitable complexes in Victoria. The complex is a prominent local landmark and has historical and social significance as the main orphanage in Bendigo. It was conducted by the sisters of the Good Shepherd and funded by Dr Henry Backhaus, who was a legendary pioneer Roman Catholic priest and the first clergyman of any denomination at Bendigo. It has also had a long history of accommodating abandoned and orphaned children from the area, as well as accommodating wards of the State, housing poorer Catholic girls, and teaching generations of children.
Architecturally, St Aidan's is notable as a complex of buildings built in a complementary style over a long period. The main building, most likely to a design by Reed, Smart and Tappin, in association with the local architects Keogh and Austen, is notable for a broadly French Medieval style as developed by the firm. The simple detailing and imposing bulk is given character by asymmetrical massing, a two-level verandah and a square tower with pointed bellcast roof as a focal point. The main building is enhanced by the ornamental garden. the secondary main building, by Keogh and Austen of 1930-31, employs complementary detailing.