The Maesbury (sometimes written as Maysbury) mansion was located on seven acres between Mitchell and Separation Streets in Northcote. In March 1877 it came up for lease as the deceased estate of registered shipowner, S. R. Groom esq. and was advertised as a…
“…gentleman’s residence, large lofty rooms, capital outhouses, brick stabling, coachhouse, seven
acre garden and paddocks.”
Despite repeated advertisements it appears that estate agent John Morris could not let the property and subsequently it was advertised for sale in July 1882. At that time Mrs. T. Hall, presumably Groom’s next of kin, gave instructions to J. B. Patterson, auctioneer for all the goods within the house to be sold with the property. The subsequent advertisement in The Argus read:
“The whole of the household furniture and effects, comprising Drawing, dining and bedroom furniture,Piano by Aucher Freres, Pier glass, centre sofa, chess table, fender, irons, etc.,
Basket chaise, made to order by Mr. D. White, Pony and harness complete,
Cow, poultry, etc...Choice collection of greenhouse plants”.
The Reverend Caleb Booth formerly of the All Saints’ Church of England in Northcote bought the house and moved in with his wife Eleanor (nee Purcell). They found the noise and dust from the Northcote Brickworks opposite intolerable and in 1885 complained to the Northcote Council, with little result. The pair stuck it out despite Eleanor’s insistence at a council meeting that her husband was a confirmed invalid and suffering greatly from the pollution. Both passed away in the house, Caleb in 1892 and Eleanor in 1895. The deceased estate then came up for auction a second time in February of that year with the sale listed as:
“Household furniture, dining, drawing and bedroom suites, hall suite, carpets, curtains, plate, china, pictures, upright grand piano, etc.”
In 1904 the eight acre property, now badly run down, was purchased by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan. They converted the building to a day-school for young ladies supplementing St Joseph’s which, at the time, was at capacity. Although the school at Maesbury started out with great promise, it was not long before it began to struggle. In 1905 it closed and the girl’s school was moved to South Yarra as Santa Maria College.
Maesbury continued as a convent for the order and eventually welcomed Santa Maria College back in 1933. Opened on 29 October by Dr. Mannix, Archbishop of Melbourne, the school was able to establish itself the second time around and is still operating successfully.
The original Maesbury homestead was demolished about the same time the new school opened.
View photographs of Maesbury House on the PictureAustralia website
GOVERNMENT ADVERTISMENTS. (1877, 29 March) The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1956), p. 8.
GOVERNMENT ADVERTISMENTS. (1878, 12 Febuary) The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1956), p. 8.
HOUSES AND LAND FOR LET. (1879, 23 January) The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1956), p. 8
Lemon, Andrew (1983). The Northcote Side of the River. North Melbourne: Hargreen.
MUNICPAL INTELLIGENCE. (1885, 17 March) The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1956), p. 10.
(1979, October 30). Northcote Leader (Northcote, Vic. : 1882 - )
SALES BY AUCTION. (1882, 24 July) The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1956), p.2
SALES BY AUCTION. (1895, 9 February) The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1956), p.2