FORMER WILLSMERE HOSPITAL

Location

1-258 WILTSHIRE DRIVE and 21 VAUGHAN CRESCENT KEW, BOROONDARA CITY

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Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) Number

H0861

Heritage Overlay Number

HO109

Level of Significance

Registered

77793

Extent of Registration

AMENDMENT OF REGISTER OF HISTORIC BUILDINGS
Historic Building No. 861- Former Willsmere Hospital, Princess Street, Kew.
(To the extent of the buildings and structures shown on the plan marked A, endorsed by the Director of the Historic Buildings Council, the land known as "Willsmere Historic Building" in the Kew Planning Scheme gazetted 14 June 1989 and depicted in Plan B, and the existing lodge adjacent to the oval.)
[Victoria Government Gazette No. G6 13 February 1991 p.289]

Statement of Significance

What is significant?
The former Willsmere Hospital, previously know as the Kew Lunatic Asylum, was commenced in 1856 and opened in 1872. The design of the complex was based on contemporary English models of asylum planning. The E-shaped complex of buildings was designed in the Italianate style by various architects employed by the Victorian Public Works Department. The central administration block comprises a three-storeyed building with attic Mansard roof and cupola, with two double-storeyed wings extending to each side which include a four-storey Mansard roofed tower, and courtyards lined with iron columned verandahs. The complex was set in a garden and surrounded by a walled fence. Fever Tents were erected in 1907 in response to a major typhoid epidemic.

How is it significant?
The former Willsmere Hospital is of historic and architectural significance to the State of Victoria

Why is it significant?
The former Willsmere Hospital is unique as the largest and most notable example of an institution erected by the Victorian Public Works Department in the nineteenth century. It is of historic importance because of it association with and ability to illustrate the evolution of mental health in Victoria over a century. It is also historically important in demonstrating rarity as one of the most intact nineteenth century lunatic asylums in the world. The former hospital is architecturally important in exhibiting the principle characteristics of the Italianate style, and of the work of the Victorian Public Works Department in the nineteenth century. It is also important in illustrating the mid-nineteenth century move to a grander style of institutional design. The former Willsmere Hospital is also architecturally important in exhibiting aesthetic characteristics of good design in the towers and mansard roofs and the central administration block. The Fever Tents are important in demonstrating the Department of Health¹s response to epidemics, as well as the prevailing belief in isolation and fresh air as a curative measure.

Year Construction Started 1870
Architectural Style Victorian Period (1851-1901) Second Empire
Heritage Act Categories Heritage place
Municipality BOROONDARA CITY; BOROONDARA CITY

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