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History of St John of God Ballarat Hospital - 1915 Bailey's Mansion completed

Bailey’s Mansion was purchased for the Sisters of St John of God by the Diocese in 1914 as the first location for St John of God Ballarat Hospital. However, as Bailey’s Mansion was previously a home for William Bailey, a lot of changes were to be made before it could be suitable as a hospital. We take a look back at our hospital’s origins.

St John of God Ballarat Hospital Baileys Mansion 

First set of renovations to bring the hospital to life

Bailey’s Mansion, while chosen as the site of a new hospital for Ballarat, was actually highly unsuitable for this purpose.

In an exhaustive report, the Health Department outlined a number of alterations to convert the rundown house for hospital use. This included removing projecting surfaces (such as architraves, skirting boards and cornices) which were likely to retain dust, and the walls and ceilings made as smooth as possible. Linoleum was to be laid over all of the floors to enable easier cleaning and better hygiene.

An operating theatre was constructed at the base of the marble staircase. Father Kennelly oversaw these plans and liaised with the Health Department and local Catholic architect, Bart Moriarty, during January, February and March.

Renovations complete

By the end of March 1915 all the renovations were finished, and on 3 May registration was granted by the Health Department.

Limitations still present

Even after the alterations, the mansion proved to be less than ideal as a hospital. Exacerbated by Ballarat’s notorious winters, the mansion’s rooms were very cold. The layout made for much carrying up and down stairs – of meals from the downstairs kitchen, and of patients downstairs from the wards to theatre on stretchers, and then upstairs after operations. It was heavy work, laden with risk to both patients and the Sisters.

What next?

As a part of our history series, we'll next take a look to see how growth in the 1950s required more major renovations to St John of God Ballarat Hospital.