St Martin’s Home for Boys was established in 1921 as a Church of England Boys’ Home in Auburn. It was run by a provisional committee established by the Church of England Archdiocese of Melbourne in 1919. In 1926, St Martin’s Home moved to Canterbury, onto the same site as St John’s Homes for Boys. The two homes were sometimes referred to as the ‘Church of England Homes for Boys’. In 1926, St Martin’s Home was later incorporated under the name of St John’s Home for Boys.
St Martin’s Home for Boys was first located is situated at 791 Burwood Road, Auburn. The Rev. Eric Thornton established a committee in 1919 to raise funds for a boys’ home. St Martin’s Home was opened formally by the Governor in June 1921.
Thornton was the first superintendent of St Martin’s Boys’ Home.
Its original capacity was 20 boys, and grew to forty boys by 1922. That same year, a property known as ‘Shrublands’ was donated to the Church of England. The Church undertook alterations to the property so that it could become a second Home for boys, planning for it to accommodate 26 boys aged between 5 and 11 (Reseigh, 1971, p.2). There was demand for another boys’ Home, partly because of the aftermath of World War One: Reseigh writes that during the first two years of St Martin’s Home, it had had to turn away 360 boys needing help. The new Home in Canterbury was called St John’s Home for Boys.
In 1926, at the presentation of the annual report of the ‘Church of England Homes for Boys’, Thornton reported that a decision had been made to sell the Auburn site and move St Martin’s to the site of St John’s Home for Boys in Canterbury.
The new St Martin’s Home at Canterbury was opened by the Governor, Lord Somers, on 11 December 1926. Reseigh writes that the timber buildings from the Burqood Road site were “moved from Auburn, as they stood, to Canterbury”.
Around this time, St Martin’s and St John’s Homes were consolidated at the Canterbury site, and known as the St John’s Home for Boys.