The Catherine Booth Girls’ Home was established by the Salvation Army in 1915 in ‘Blackhall’ mansion, East Kew. The Home accommodated girls aged between 4 and 16. The Catherine Booth Girls’ Home closed in 1976.
The Catherine Booth Girls’ Home was situated at 26 Sackville Street, East Kew, in a mansion known as Blackhall. Catherine Booth and her husband William were the founders of the Salvation Army. The first girls to move into the Catherine Booth Home were those from the recently closed Glenroy Girls’ Home.
In November 1955, Catherine Booth Girls’ Home was declared an approved children’s home under the Children’s Welfare Act 1954.
The East Kew Home accommodated about 90 to 100 girls. During the mid 1950s attempts were made to convert the large scale dormitories to smaller unit accommodation. In the 1960s, the Home began accepting boys aged 2 to 8 years, to keep siblings together. By 1969, its capacity had reduced to 48 with an increasing emphasis on small group care for girls in the 4 to 16 year old age group.
In 1972, children were transferred to the Home when the Salvation Army closed the William Booth Girls’ Home in East Camberwell Home.
During the 1970s, the Salvation Army was becoming increasingly aware that children living at East Kew, coming originally from Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs, were experiencing difficulty coping with social involvement in the Kew community. Planning began to relocate the operations to Jacana in the North Western suburbs.
In an article from 1977, Major Doris Pengilly wrote about the reasons behind the closure of Catherine Booth in Kew, and the move to Jacana Children’s Home in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne. Many staff from Catherine Booth were involved in the planning of Jacana and were transferred there when the Kew Home closed.
Some children living at Catherine Booth were transferred to Jacana. Pengilly wrote about five of the children living at Kew ‘excitedly awaiting transfer’ to Jacana, as their parents lived in the nearby area (Hops, Steps and Jumps, 1997).
Jacana, near Glenroy in northern Melbourne, was a very different suburb to Kew. Pengilly wrote:
For these children there will be considerable change as they move from a lovely locality in the City of Kew, a municipality that has the highest number of senior citizens in it. No wonder we have never really broken through with involving our children in the life of the community. The community has been too old for them.
The Catherine Booth Girls’ Home closed in 1976.
East Kew Girls' Home
Catherine Booth Memorial Home
1915 - 1976
The Catherine Booth Girls' Home was located at 26 Sackville Street, East Kew, Victoria (Building Still standing)