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Fairfield Hospital Group, Yarra Bend Rd, Fairfield, VIC, Australia

Photographs None
List Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)
Class Historic
Legal Status Registered (24/06/1997)
Place ID 100230
Place File No 2/14/038/0008
Statement of Significance
The Fairfield Hospital Precinct, constructed in a number of stages between 1900-40, is significant as Victoria's first infectious diseases hospital. The site, through its sequential growth, represents a number of important events in the State's exposure to infectious diseases with each new ward or structure symbolising yet another imported disease (Criteria A.4 and B.2) (Historic Theme: 3.24 Treating what ails Australians). The precinct is comprised of a number of intact buildings, including the former Wards 4 and 5, the Gatehouse, the Nurses Home, the Original Administration Block, the 1917 Administration Building and Wards, the Mortuary, the Boiler House, the Ambulance Garage and the F V G Scholes Building. Constructed mainly in the Federation Queen Anne style, the buildings demonstrate the principal characteristics of buildings from this period. In 1926 the advanced design of the complex was considered by visiting American hospital expert Dr MacEachern as 'the best fever hospital plan with which he had ever come in contact' (Criterion D.2). The buildings were designed by four architects, namely J H Marsden during the early 1900s, Anketell and Kingsley Henderson during 1916-17 and 1932 and Percy Everett during 1940 and 1949. Anketell and Kingsley Henderson were prominent hospital architects whose work had a key influence in hospital design in metropolitan and country Victoria. Percy Everett was also a notable architect and the Chief Architect of the Public Works Department (PWD) at the time (Criterion H.1). The Administration Building and earlier buildings have considerable architectural character, derived from their Federation style designs. The 1940 Ambulance Garage is a fine example of the Functionalist style with Art Deco details. The F V G Scholes block of 1949 is an architecturally important International style building, designed under the supervision of Percy Everett in a mannered Modernist approach, featuring a zig-zag glazed facade. The building had a large influence on the design of award winning buildings of the 1970s such as Allendale Square, Perth (Criterion F.1). The Fairfield Hospital Precinct contains a strong harmonious character which is brought about by the consistency of materials and roof shapes used during the main period of construction (1900-49) and the avenue approach of exotic plantings to the building and the river. A single Indian fig (FICUS PALMATA) is located on the site (Criteria E.1 and B.2).
Official Values Not Available
Externally, the first buildings were of cavity facebrick work with stucco dressings and Marseilles pattern terracotta tiles; they generally followed the Queen Anne and Federation Free styles of architecture. The two original Ward Blocks 4 and 5 (later the Pathology Building and the Pay Office and Fitters' and Turners' Building) have survived from 1901-04. They are characterised by two conically roofed octagonal tower rooms on the north end, presumably acting as service rooms for the staff. The balance of the building is a long, hipped roof and verandahed pavilion, which illustrates the Oriental aspects of this style of architecture. One of these is currently the Staff Cafeteria (the turreted rooms, once reputedly used for isolation, being male and female lavatories), the other the outpatients department housing a range of services including the travel health clinic. The approaches and main elements of these ward blocks remain today, being further enhanced by the mature cypress hedges, Canary Island palms and cedar trees which stand nearby. Externally Ward 5 appears to be more original than Ward 4, although both have been altered extensively, but superficially, inside. Presumably these buildings were to the design of the PWD, under Chief Architect, J H Marsden. The new Administration Building (plus two ward pavilions) of 1916-17 is a two level austere brick building, stylistically derived from the earlier Edwardian period but also reflecting some of the Bungalow era. The Marseilles pattern tiles were used but on a less fanciful roof shape with a Dutch-hip as the only embellishment. The plan was a symmetrically arranged series of bays, the central recessed bay of each face being gabled and capped with stucco. The west facade was completed after additions in 1939. The entrance porch has been extended and roofed later. The ambulance garage, workshops and men's quarters building is distinctive and, typical of the architect Everett, having a huge curved brick wall which is both the garage for the ambulances and a powerful visual element. Set as the focus of this semi- circular wall is a two level brick building, Everett's European Modern influence being evident. Visually the curved wall achieves most outside of the complex and presents an unusual form as one perimeter to the complex.
The F V G Scholes block of 1949 is an important Modern building, designed with a zig-zag glazed facade under Percy Everett in a mannered Modernist approach which was to be re-used by award winning buildings of the 1970s such as Allendale Square, Perth.
By the 1870s Melbourne had two general hospitals, Melbourne (1848) and Alfred (1871) and three specialist hospitals, Lying-In (1856), Children's (1870) and Eye and Ear (1869). The following decade saw the inability of the major hospitals to cope with the annual bouts of infectious diseases such as typhoid and diphtheria which recurred. In the two decades prior to the 1890s the city's population had doubled, yet there had been no equivalent provision of new hospital accommodation. By the 1890s doctors considered that Melbourne (despite improvements in public hygiene, sanitary reform, the sewering of Melbourne, awareness of bacteriological theories and preventative medicine) still urgently required an isolated hospital for infectious diseases. Cases of smallpox had been dealt with at this time by a small centre for infectious diseases at Williamstown. Northcote, at some distance from central Melbourne, had early become a suitable location for such institutions as the Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum (1848) and the Inebriate Retreat (1873) on Merri Creek. The siting of an infectious diseases hospital at Yarra Bend was investigated from the 1870s. A perspective was prepared by architects Wharton, Down and Gibbins in 1893 showing a proposed Infectious Diseases Hospital near Melbourne. Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 saw the Mayor of Melbourne, Councillor Strong, convene a meeting at the request of Lord Brassey, the Governor of Victoria, on the subject of a Fever Hospital. Queen Victoria had intimated that funds raised to celebrate her Jubilee should be devoted towards the amelioration of the sick and suffering. The municipalities of Boroondara, Brighton, Brunswick, Essendon, Flemington and Kensington, Footscray, Hawthorn, Heidelberg, Kew, North Melbourne, Malvern, Northcote, Prahran, South Melbourne, St Kilda and Williamstown were all represented on a fund raising committee. Up to 16,000 pounds had been received by 1897 and fifteen acres of land was granted by the Government for the Queen's Memorial Infectious Diseases Hospital. Tenders were called in 1900 for the hospital's first buildings and these were completed, unfurnished, in 1901. When the hospital opened in 1904, only seven municipalities remained on the hospital management committee: Melbourne, Fitzroy, Richmond, St Kilda, North Melbourne, Brunswick and Coburg. Fairfield was the first hospital in Melbourne to derive its revenue from municipal levies. Fairfield has a distinctive history as the location of Melbourne's infectious diseases hospital and the spatial and symbolic isolation of its first fifty years are essential aspects of the site's social and physical character. As a locked hospital, access was supervised by resident lodge keepers and there were separate entries for infected and non-infected traffic. By 1952, Fairfield was reputed to be the first fever hospital in the world to allow visitors, with restricted daily access allowed to infectious wards. While late twentieth century medical techniques now isolate viruses rather than patients themselves, the hospital still symbolically resonates in the popular imagination with exclusion and confinement. In 1936 a Drinker Respirator was imported from England and used in the poliomyelitis epidemic in the following year. At its peak in the 1930s Fairfield had over 700 hospital beds, a number which by the 1990s had dropped to about 100. Despite 1991 plans to dismantle Fairfield and distribute its services throughout Melbourne, the hospital continues to fulfil its original role and has been one of the world pioneers in AIDS research since admitting its first AIDS patient in 1983. The original buildings at Fairfield are believed to have been designed by the PWD's Chief Architect, J H Marsden. In 1904 the twenty-two acre site comprised two wards, (for diphtheria and scarlet fever respectively), an administration block, kitchen, laundry, receiving house, lodge and nurses' home to accommodate twenty. Each ward had twenty-five beds, was well ventilated and had bitumen floors which could be washed down as required. Circulation between the buildings was by asphalt paths under verandahs. The original kitchen block (now demolished) was at the centre of the complex and from there trolleys would traverse the paths to the wards. Between September 1904 and September 1905, 446 cases were treated, but by 1910 the annual figure had risen to 1,339. Despite the increase in admissions, no extra permanent accommodation had been provided. The permanent accommodation was being augmented not only by military tents but with rough tin and weatherboard structures. The Nurses Home was located on the eastern part of the complex and the original building was enlarged by architects A and K Henderson in 1916-17 and 1932. The building program approved during 1916 included a massive extension to the Nurses Home on its eastern side by builder W Machin, making it a three level, verandahed building overlooking the Yarra River. This was again extended on the south in 1924. In 1917 the new administration buildings were opened, together with two ward pavilions designed by architects A and K Henderson to cater for cerebro-spinal meningitis. Diseases treated at the hospital in that year comprised diphtheria, measles, scarlet fever, whooping cough, cerebro-spinal meningitis and infantile paralysis (poliomyelitis). In July 1922 two new ward pavilions for measles were opened and a new brick store was completed at this time. The world's leading hospital theorist Dr MacEachern, who visited Melbourne in 1925-26, commented that the plan on which Fairfield Hospital was laid out 'was the best fever hospital with which he had ever come in contact.' In 1932, 25,000 pounds were spent on works including an extension in a matching style to the Nurses Home to provide fifty-six more nurses' places. The builder was J Whitelaw. The Nurses' Home, now known as Yarra House, currently houses tenant organisations with a public health focus, research institutes, consumer groups and professional associations. It contains two interior staircases and one external spiral iron staircase to the north. The former recreation hall at the south end has been converted into an auditorium. The ambulance garage, workshop and men's quarters building was designed under the PWD architect Percy Everett in 1940. One of the later additions to the complex was the F V G Scholes block of 1949, designed by Everett in a mannered Modernist approach. The Coates Block was built in 1963 and in the 1990s several building works have been undertaken. After the hospital building campaigns of the Victorian era, Fairfield Hospital is the first major and consolidated building program on a new site in Victoria, followed by the Melbourne Hospital redevelopment in Lonsdale Street. Although the complex has grown dramatically since 1900, the materials and roof shapes used have generally been in harmony over the major period of building (1900-40). Thus it is both an important homogenous environment and a catalogue of distinctive buildings from this period. By its sequential growth, it also represents events in the State's exposure to infectious diseases with each new ward or structure representing yet another imported disease. The association of prominent hospital architects Anketell and Kingsley Henderson with the Fairfield complex dates from 1914 to the 1930s, their work having a key influence in hospital design in metropolitan and country Victoria. The F V G Scholes Block of 1949, designed by Percy Everett, is an important modern building which was prototypal of office designs thirty to forty years later. Everett was also involved in the design of other Victorian Sanitariums. In 1904 the hospital was approached from the private drive leading to the Yarra Bend Asylum, from which the visitor entered an enclosure in which several substantial looking buildings stand at respectful distances from one another, in a bare, uncultivated allotment of twenty two acres. Of particular note now is the development of an exotic landscape throughout the northern section of the complex. Cypresses, palms, cedars, evergreen shrubs and hedges lend an Edwardian era setting to the complex. These elements are important contributors to the visual character of the complex, forming an avenue of approach to the building and the river. Three deodars (CEDRUS DEODARA) and two sugar gums (EUCALYPTUS CLADOCCALYX) are recorded on the National Trust's Register of Significant Trees. A single Indian fig (FICUS PALMATA) is classified on the Register and believed to be the only specimen in Australia.

Condition and Integrity
The buildings are largely intact. The hospital closed in 1996.
Yarra Bend Road, Fairfield, comprising: former Wards 4 and 5, Nurses Home, 1917 Administration Building and Wards, Ambulance Garage, F V G Scholes Building and single specimen of FICUS PALMATA.
Kenyon, A.S., 1934, The City of Streams, Heidelberg
Fairfield Hospital Victoria, 1954, 1904-54 Golden Jubilee Program, Melbourne
Inglis, K.S., 1958, Hospital and Community: a history of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne University Press
Mitchell, A.M., 1977, The Hospital South of the Yarra: a History of Alfred Hospital Melbourne from Foundation to the Nineteen-Forties, Melbourne
Gault, E.W. & Lucas, A., 1982, A Century of Compassion: A History of the Austin Hospital, Macmillan, South Melbourne
Graeme Butler and Associates, 1982, Northcote Urban Conservation Study
Lemon, A., 1983, The Northcote Side of the River, City of Northcote
Egan, B., 1993, Ways of a Hospital: St Vincent's Melbourne 1890s-1990s, Allen and Unwin
Fairfield Hospital Annual Report 1994
BEMJ, 22 April 1893
Weekly TImes, 15 October 1904, pp 13-14; 21 October 1905
Argus, 27 April 1910, p7; 14 September 1910, p12; 7 March 1911, p9; 10 March 1911, p6, 13 August 1912, p6; 31 May 1917, p10; 7 June 1917, p3; 27 October 1932.
Leader, 1 August 1931
Building, 12 January 1933, 'Fairfield (vic.) Hospital', pp55-59.
Sunday Herald Sun, 19 February 1995, pp.104-105, 'Fairfield: from sickness to health'

Report Produced  Fri Jul 25 21:40:28 2014