Sunday, 31 January 2016

Infant Orphan School, New Town

The Infant School was opened in 1862 to relieve overcrowding in the Boys' and Girls' Schools either side of St John's Church. It also housed the hospital for the orphan school. The rear of the building had an unusual radial spoke arrangement which has been demolished. The main block is flanked by two single storey wings which were raised to two stories circa 1880.

The Infant Orphan School, constructed in 1862 became the Female Charitable Institution in 1879, operating as a lying-in hospital and home for girls considered to be 'mentally defective' as well as providing accommodation for women who were destitute. After the orphan school closed in 1879, the noteworthy wrought-iron verandas were added and other alterations were made. The building became known as New Town Charitable Institution.

The New Town Charitable Institution was housed in the former buildings of the Infant's Orphan School after it closed in 1879. In addition to the Boys' Training School and the offices of the Neglected Children's Department, the Institution provided accommodation to people who were poor and aged, or had disabilities. Between 1896 and 1911, the offices of the Charitable Grants Department were at the Institution. Since 1874, the Infant Orphan School had been used as a lying-in hospital for young women with intellectual disabilities and the Institution continued to serve this purpose.

The New Town Infirmary replaced the New Town Charitable Institution in 1912. Its residents included children detained by the government for various reasons. The New Town Rest Home, run by the government, replaced the New Town Infirmary in August 1934. It provided accommodation to children and adults placed there for many different reasons.

The government changed the name of the New Town Infirmary to the New Town Rest Home in an attempt to avoid the stigma of poverty associated with the institution. The Home provided temporary accommodation to state wards and permanent accommodation for people who were elderly and infirm, with chronic illnesses, or who were certified under the Mental Deficiency Act 1920.

In 1936, New Town Rest Home became St John's Park. It is now owned by Southern Cross Care (Tas.) Inc and is part of its Rosary Gardens Residential Aged Care Facility. It is used for medical and administrative purposes. It also contains a kiosk for inmates and staff.

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