History of St Ann’s1968

In the early 1900s, the predominant colonial method of caring for the aged was in large asylums, which resulted in overcrowded and impoverished arrangements for residents. In response to this situation, the first St Ann’s doors were opened by Miss A. Barbara Barnett in 1922, one of the first ‘rest homes’ in Australia.

  • The Baptist Union acknowledged a need for an extended outreach into the aged care sector in the community. They set about raising funds, and in December 1946 began proceedings to purchase Hawthornden, a spacious home in Davey St. It was sold to St Ann’s for five thousand pounds – half its market value. The Eventide Appeal was launched in 1950 with the daunting goal of raising 50,000 pounds to fund the renovations and additions to the property. With the appeal target within reach, the foundation stones were laid for the development in 1950.
  • During the early years of St Ann’s, the firm of Clements and Marshall diligently filled the Home’s monthly orders for vegetables, but neglected to send any bills as a show of support. Fundraising efforts continued with vigour, including glamorous balls, harbour cruises and theatrical performances. The new St Ann’s was opened by the Governor, Sir Richard Cross, on 17 February 1953.
  • It seems the paint was hardly dry on the Hawthornden site when it was time to expand again. Miss Barnett had cared for her father at St Ann’s many years before, but having male residents was the exception rather than the rule, but the time had come for the new facility to include provisions for men. The new Athol Townley wing was opened in 1959. In 1961 the Board decided to construct another four story wing, with semi-independent options for couples, and this was opened in 1964.
  • As the need for a more specialised nursing facility grew, the board purchased an adjacent property and built a 15 bed facility called St Ann’s Geriatric Hospital. Once again, a shortfall of funding meant that an appeal was launched, and once again the dream was realised and another St Ann’s facility opened in 1968.
  • Due to rising costs and high inflation throughout the 1970s, St Ann’s faced significant financial pressures due to the rising operating costs. Expansion plans were put on hold until early 1978 when the board decided to take the risk, and according to Don Norman, “all board members eventually agreed to put their trust in the Almighty and set forth hand in hand into a possible valley of shadows, financial, anyway.” The building works were completed in 1979 and the home was now providing space for 126 people.
  • In the early 1990s a further major upgrade of the facilities took place, with the Geriatric Hospital being developed to provide full ensuites for each room. The funding for aged care changed in the 1990s, and with St Ann’s at full capacity the search began for a new site. Various options were investigated, but it was decided that Davey St was so central and attractive that it was the only option. The site was totally redeveloped between 2001 and 2003, in a masterpiece of project management which allowed all residents to remain on site during the works. St Ann’s now has 111 private rooms on a level site, with safe, enclosed walkways, a sheltered central garden courtyard and raised garden beds.