Skip to main content

Barwon Health buildings: what's in a name?

Friday, 02 February 2018

By Serena Griffin, Library & Literacy Project Officer, Barwon Health Library Service

Have you ever wondered who the buildings and wards around Barwon Health are named after? If you were born and raised in the Geelong region, you might be aware of some of the people of Geelong and District who contributed to and helped to establish various community organisations and services, including public health services in Geelong.

The following provides a brief history of the naming of some of Barwon Health’s buildings and wards.

The public hospital in Geelong is referred to by various titles which it has held throughout the years:
• Geelong Infirmary and Benevolent Asylum (1852-1923)
• Geelong Hospital – the name used after the residents vacated the Benevolent Asylum in 1923
• Geelong and District Hospital (Kitchener House) (1924 – 1966)
• The Geelong Hospital (1966 - 2012)
• University Hospital Geelong (2012 – present).

McKellar Centre

Originally named Grace McKellar House in 1959, when the first patients were admitted. The land on which the McKellar Centre is built was donated by Misses Ernestine and Catharine McKellar. Their mother, Grace, had an interest in the welfare of older and under-privileged people. Grace McKellar was concerned with the closure of the Geelong Benevolent Asylum in 1923, with residents being transferred to facilities in Ballarat, as there was not a suitable alternative available in Geelong. The land encompassed the site of the Bell Park Homestead. The chapel, on the grounds of the McKellar Centre, is the only surviving building of the homestead.

Alan David Lodge – Residential Aged Care

In 2009, Alan David Lodge was posthumously named after Alan Ray David OAM. In 1988, Alan David was awarded the Medal of Order of Australia (OAM) for services to the community, and was well-known for his support of the arts in the region. After serving in the Second World War, Major Alan David returned to Geelong and established an accountancy firm. Alan David was involved with many organisations in Geelong, often playing a key role in establishing organisations, including the McKellar Centre and the Geelong Performing Arts Centre. Alan and his wife Sheila were supporters of the arts, helping to establish the Geelong Art Gallery Silversmith collection and donating a number of items. Alan David was appointed a Life Member of the Geelong Art Gallery in 1973, where he also served the role of Honorary Secretary for 30 years, along with Honorary Treasurer and Committee member. Alan David served as President of the Apex Club of Geelong from 1938-1960; a member of the Geelong Rotary Club for 39 years, as well as a member and Elder of the St David’s Uniting Church in Newtown, serving on the Board of Management for over 50 years.

Wallace Lodge – Residential Aged Care

Dr. Frederick Hilton Wallace JP, OBE, was a founding member of the Committee of Management of Grace McKellar House and served as President of the Committee from 1959 to 1971. Dr. Wallace was the Mayor of Geelong from 1942 to 1945, and had been elected a City Councilor in 1931. Dr. Wallace served as Chairman of the Old Folks Home Committee, established in 1944, to seek funding for a new Geelong public benevolent home, which was named Grace McKellar House when it opened in 1959. Dr. Wallace was also founding member of the East Geelong Golf Club, and was known by the nickname of “Doc”.

Percy Baxter Lodge – Residential Aged Care

In 1942 Percy Baxter donated £6,000 for purchase of the land in order to build Baxter House, which was first used as a nurses’ home. Due to overcrowding in the maternity ward, as a result of private maternity services closing down, Percy Baxter persuaded his bankers at the National Australia Bank to loan the hospital £150,000 pounds in order to build a new maternity hospital which was to be repaid by the government. Baxter House was built and the first patients were admitted in 1954. Baxter House is now the Geelong Private Hospital.

Baxter Wing, opened in 2015 at University Hospital Geelong, also recognises the support and commitment the Baxter family have shown to Barwon Health since 1942.

DeForest House 

Mr A. O. “Alf” De Forest was the first Executive Director of Grace McKellar House, from 1959 to 1982. The Geelong Disabled People’s Industries (GDPI) was established in the mid-1960s, by a committee of mainly Rotarians, including Alf De Forest, who was a member of the Geelong West Rotary Club.

Based at McKellar Centre, DeForest House is home to Administrative staff for Aged Psychiatric Services, Barwon Regional Aged Care Assessment Services, and Palliative Care Services.

Kitchener House 

Located in Ryrie St, the Geelong and District Hospital (Kitchener Memorial), as it was known from 1924 until 1964, was named after Lord Kitchener, the Earl of Khartoum, who died when the British battleship HMS Hampshire sunk in 1916. Kitchener was a distinguished and well-respected military figure throughout the world. Prior to his death, Kitchener had visited Australia, travelling by special train to Queenscliff from Melbourne, to inspect the fort at Queenscliff. Kitchener’s train briefly stopped in Geelong. The organisers of an appeal to raise money for the building of the hospital decided that adding Kitchener’s name would attract attention to the project. In 1966, the title of the hospital was changed to ‘The Geelong Hospital’, and the buildings over the road encompassing the nurses’ living quarters were named Kitchener House to retain the Kitchener name.

Kitchener House is home to various Barwon Health departments, including the Health Promotion Unit, Clinical Education & Training, IMPACT Strategic Research Centre, Mental Health Education, Centre for Innovation in Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Treatment.

Andrew Love Cancer Centre

Reverend Andrew Love was the first Presbyterian Minister appointed in Geelong in 1840. Reverend Love was involved in setting up ‘benevolent societies’, and helped to secure funding for the first public hospital and aged care facility in Geelong, known as the ‘Geelong Infirmary and Benevolent Asylum’.

Swanston Centre – Acute Psychiatric Admissions Unit

The former Swanston Street Primary School. It is believed the school was named after Captain Charles Swanston, a Tasmanian banker and prominent member of the Port Phillip Association, which acquired land in the district. If you look at the top of the building, you'll see the name of the school built into the façade. In the late 1990s, the psychiatric wards moved into the redeveloped former Swanston Street Primary School.

John Lindell Theatre

Dr John Lindell was the chairman of the Hospitals and Charities Commission from 1953 to 1972. Dr. Lindell provided support for the establishment of pathology services, including building work, to house the new service as well as a blood bank, cytology services and a library.

Birdsey Wing

Named after Roy Davison Birdsey, OBE, and President of The Geelong Hospital from 1955 to 1976. Roy Birdsey was a Barrister and Solicitor, and was highly thought of at the Geelong hospital, and throughout the wider hospital field, serving on the Victorian Hospitals Superannuation Board from 1966 up until his death in 1979.

St Mary’s Library & Research Centre

Constructed in 1892, named St Mary’s Hall and used as classrooms for St Mary’s School until 1918. St Mary’s Hall is heritage listed under the Victorian Heritage Register, as it has significant architectural and historical significance to Victoria. In November of 2013, it was announced that $5.4 million would be spent on renovating St Mary’s Hall to house the Barwon Health Library. In May of 2016, the Library moved into St Mary’s Hall. The building was renamed St Mary’s Library & Research Centre, an officially opened on the 17th of November, 2016.

Heath Wing 

Opened in 1986 and named after Patricia Heath, who was a nurse and served on the Boards of organisations throughout Geelong and Australia. Patricia Heath was Chairman of the Board of Geelong Hospital and Barwon Health from 1979 to 2000. Mrs Heath stated that the knowledge and insights gained through her involvement with other organisations could be applied to benefit Geelong Hospital. Mrs. Heath was Chairman of Illawarra Community Centre, which became Vision Australia. The profile of Geelong Hospital was raised during the time that she served as a member of the Boards of Victorian Hospitals Association (VHA), the Australian Hospital Association (AHA), as well as Chairman of the Australian Council of Health Care Standards. Geelong Hospital was the first hospital in Australia to be accredited by the Australian Council of Health Care Standards. In an interview, available from the online Barwon Health Publications Repository, Mrs Heath notes that across Australia, she was recognised as an agent of change.

Departments within the Heath Wing include Emergency Department, BMI, Children’s Ward, Pediatric Services, Speech Pathology Acute Services, Audiology, Orthopaedic Research Unit, Surgical Unit and the Acute Neuroscience Unit.