110th anniversary of laying of foundation stone for Mater Private Hospital

Thursday, 24 May 2018

110th anniversary of laying of foundation stone for Mater Private Hospital
Today marks 110 years since the foundation stone for Mater Private Hospital at South Brisbane was laid and blessed by Cardinal Patrick Francis Moran, Archbishop of Sydney, on 24 May 1908.
 
The hospital was to be established by the Sisters of Mercy, who had previously opened the first Mater Private Hospital in rented premises, a private house named ‘Aubigny’, across the Brisbane River at North Quay in 1906. 
 
The hospital at North Quay was intended as a temporary facility until the Sisters could raise the funds to build a new private hospital on the 10 acres of land that they had purchased in South Brisbane.
 
By 1908, through proceeds from fee-paying patients at the private hospital at North Quay and an intensive fundraising effort, the Sisters had secured sufficient funds to commence construction of the new Mater Private Hospital at South Brisbane.
 
The laying and blessing of the foundation stone was cause for great celebration and the ceremony attracted around 12 000 people, who crowded the slopes of College Hill (now known as Mater Hill).
 
An estimated £20 000 was required to construct the hospital. Of this, £2000 was collected from supporters on the day of the laying of the foundation stone, while £1500 had been donated prior to the event. Raising the balance of the £20 000 depended solely on further private funding, and newspaper articles at the time encouraged Queenslanders to show their appreciation of the good work done by the Sisters of Mercy by donating towards the cost of the hospital.
 
Mater Private Hospital was to be a three-story brick building with verandahs on all sides, which allowed rooms to be opened to a cooling breeze on hot summer days, while the hospital’s position sheltered it from the westerly winds in winter.
 
More than two years after the laying of the foundation stone, on 14 August 1910 the new Mater Private Hospital was officially blessed by Cardinal Moran and opened by the Governor, Sir William MacGregor. On 8 September, the hospital’s first patient was transferred from Aubigny at North Quay to the new facility.
 
The ideal of the Sisters of Mercy was to build a public hospital dedicated to the provision of care and compassion to the sick and needy, and the new fee-paying private hospital would help fund the realisation of this dream.
 
Sixteen months after the laying of the foundation stone for the new Mater Private Hospital, the foundation stone for Mater Public Hospital was laid on 24 September 1909, with the public hospital opening on 2 February 1911.
 
Today, the site of Mater Private Hospital is known as ‘Aubigny Place’ with the private hospital having relocated in 1993 to the new Mater Private Hospital Brisbane on Vulture Street.
 
 
Image: Cardinal Patrick Francis Moran blessed the foundation stone, which was supported by a small derrick.
 

Tags: Aubigny, Mater Private Hospital, Sisters of Mercy