Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Tempe House - the facade and Mount Olympus (Tempe House Tour Part 4)

Spark died in October 1856. There were no obituaries, and he is buried in an unmarked grave in St Peter’s Church cemetery, Tempe. he had already lost the house to trustees.

In December 1856 there was a partial subdivision of Tempe Estate into 123 suburban lots of between ½ and 2 acres. There was little interest and it was withdrawn in April 1859 and re-sub-divided.

The house and 11 surrounding acres were one lot, and the remainder were 1 to 20 acres.

Tempe was bought by two bachelor brothers, Patrick and Thomas Maguire of George St, Sydney. They paid £ 2000. Neither brother ever lived at Tempe, and it was occupied by a series of wealthy tenants. It was known as Greenbank at this time. The large block of flats immediately behind Tempe House is named Greenbank. The other is named Verge.

Probably the most notable tenant was Caroline Chisholm, dubbed “the immigrants’ friend”. She leased it to run “an educational establishment for young ladies”, until ill-health forced her to abandon it. Chisholm was once on the Australian $5 note, but lost that position when the $1 and $2 notes were replaced by coins. It is tradition to have the monarch's head on the lowest denomination note, so Queen Liz got the gig.

In 1885 the house passed into the hands of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan of St Benedict who operated it as St Magdalen’s Retreat for destitute women from 1884 to 1983.

Gradually the function changed from accommodation for destitute women to one primarily for women unable to find employment and in danger of prostitution. Former prostitutes, ex-prisoners and alcoholics were accommodated for two years to work in the laundry, dairy or poultry yard. Younger women were taught cooking, sewing and other domestic duties.

Originally the women accommodated were all volunteers, free to leave at any time, and then the courts increasingly referred young women judged to be in “moral danger”.

I believe that the house was sold to Qantas which had some plans to use it as a training base, but that never came to fruition. The house and grounds quietly disintegrated until it was eventually sold to developers, the results of which we see today.

1 comment:

  1. Really strange superimposing of buildings!?!... don't u think?..