St Michael’s relies on the longer breaks to maintain our buildings without interrupting student learning, and the Christmas/New Year break proved to be another busy maintenance period for the School.
The School’s original building, Marlton House, was the focus for the break, and it was stripped to its bare bones to undergo substantial work.
Looking at the School’s history, the following quote reveals the promise the Sisters saw in Marlton House in 1895. Having acquired a long-term lease on the House before committing to the purchase of the building, Sister Bridget wrote to Mother Emily in England in 1895:
Enchanted with the place – already seventeen rooms and room to expand in – two storied house, very shabby of course but most capable of improvement – nice bit of garden, also very dilapidated.Sister Bridget, 1895
In early 1895, the Sisters (Hannah, Rose, Bridget and Phyllis) worked with their own hands to lay linoleum, staining and rubbing a wooden border around it and wallpapering the walls in blue. They sought donations of money and furniture, ordered school desks and prepared a prospectus in handwritten cursive in preparation for opening their school. At the same time, they were running a second-hand shop in Chapel St to provide an extra income stream to fund their efforts. As many of our younger students often remind me, the Sisters later supplemented their meagre income by running a dog shelter in the back garden of Marlton House. They also kept a vegetable garden, a cow in the paddock and over the course of their first year, they enrolled 95 students.
The Sisters truly were enterprising, creative and dedicated women!
Over the course of 2018, designer Christopher Elliott ran a series of iterative consultations with our students and staff to ensure that the learning spaces reflected their thinking and needs. The works on Marlton House over the break have restored its glory and created fresh and vibrant learning spaces for our students.
Visiting the teachers this week and seeing their efforts to bring the spaces to life has been a joy. I think the Sisters would be proud that we have bestowed upon Marlton House, the original site of their educational endeavours, all of our love and care. It was their home, their workplace and embodied their purpose.Mrs Terrie Jones, Head of the School