It was Open House Melbourne on the weekend and I was able to visit five places this year over two days: Arlington Primary School and Kindergarten, Preshil; Mandeville Hall; Victorian Artists Society, Newman College at The University of Melbourne; and the Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre. As always there was some amazing insights into the Melbourne that I don't usually see.
I was curious about this progressive school because the blurb described it as being child-led architecture. So I was surprised to enter and see an elegant olde worlde drawing room with shelves of old books and an open fire. Apparently this was part of the old house from when the school was founded in the 1930s.
This is a girls Catholic school run by the Loreto nuns. The original hall is a nineteenth century mansion and this is the part of the school open to us. I confess to running after small child and not having much time to focus on the history of the building.
My dad was interested to have a look at the Victorian Artists Society. The 1890s building is quite impressive and all the more so for housing a building that counted some of Australia's fine artists among its number.
Open House Melbourne requires great planning. So many interesting buildings but it is a tyranny of choice, and a matter of mapping times and locations. This has been made even harder because now a lot of the popular buildings require booking. I looked at booking some of these on the day after bookings opened and many were already booked out.
One of the buildings that interested me and required a booking was Newman College. I snaffled one of the last tickets for tours for the Sunday morning. The tour was taken by an architectural historian. It was great to see some of the beautiful architecture by Walter Burley Griffin from the early twentieth century and hear of his fine design. But I really would have preferred more social history.
As I was close by, I went to check out the Kathleen Syme library and community centre that opened in 2015. The building had originally been built in the 1870s as the Faraday Street State School. I have been curious to have a look inside since its reopening 2 years ago.
Meanwhile I really enjoyed Open House Melbourne. As always I wished I could visit more places. However the ones I saw were a great peeks into some Melbourne icons that gave some insight into the rich history of our city. I have listed past Open House visits in this index.
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