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St Martin’s Hospital

Nurses’ Quarters, St Martin’s Hospital

St Martin’s House
Formerly St Martin’s War Memorial Hospital

One of the earliest major war memorials in Australia, St Martin’s War Memorial Hospital (now St Martin’s House) was built by the Anglican Church as a symbol of the gratitude of Queenslanders for the service and sacrifice of her solders. The war memorial hospital scheme was launched In 1919 by Archbishop St Clair Donaldson, and the dedication to St. Martin was chosen as the Armistice had been signed on Saint Martin’s day – 11th November 1918.

The foundation stone was laid by the Governor of Queensland, Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams, on Sunday the 9th November 1919, almost one year to the day after the signing of the Armistice.

There was an unprecedented coming together of many diverse groups within the community to raise the funds necessary to build this memorial.  The building was opened on 28th November 1922 in the presence of the Governor-General Baron Forster and dedicated by Archbishop Sharp.

St Martin’s Hospital was run by the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Advent and provided free hospital care for returned servicemen and women from all conflicts throughout its 50 years as a hospital, as well as paid hospital care to the general public.  (The major operating theatre is now the office of the Dean of Brisbane, the Very Reverend Dr Peter Catt.)

During the late 1960s, the longer term viability of the hospital was being considered, together with discussions around possible development projects by the Brisbane City Council.  The decision to close the hospital was made by Cathedral Chapter, taking effect on 30 June, 1971. Discussions continued regarding the building itself.

A legal challenge was mounted by community committees opposed to the closure of the hospital and the demolition of the St Martin’s building, continuing over a number of years.  Within the general community there were concerns regarding the safeguarding of Brisbane’s heritage.

At the time it was placed on the Australian Heritage Commission Register of the National Estate in 1978, St Martin’s House was noted as a building of important and historical significance, classified, in part, due to its importance as an unusual war memorial.

The building was retained. Following consideration by Cathedral Chapter of a number of options, the building was renamed as St Martin’s House, was refurbished and opened as the administrative headquarters for the Anglican Diocese and St John’s Cathedral, in November 1990. It remains as a symbol of service –  a living building, dedicated to the care and support of the community.

To this day, the spirit of those associated with St Martin’s War Memorial Hospital remains strong. Groups of past nurses and medical staff continue to meet regularly on the anniversary of St Martin’s Day – Remembrance Day.

In 2012, on the 90th anniversary of the opening of the hospital, a plaque which was fully funded by a group of former medical and nursing staff, was located near the entrance of St Martin’s House and a service of blessing and dedication conducted.   This plaque outlines the story of the establishment of St Martin’s War Memorial Hospital.

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