Within Herston Quarter we are excited to again open the Edith Cavell building to Brisbane Open House.
This heritage gem was first opened in 1922 and 100 years later following an extensive restoration. Australian Unity was delighted to again rededicate the building with both ceremonies being officiated by the Queensland Governor of the day.
The Edith Cavell building is now Australian Unity’s Brisbane head office and will soon welcome additional tenants, however it was first built as a 108 room nurses’ home for those working at the Hospital for Sick Children, and later at the Royal Brisbane or Children’s Hospitals.
What Brisbane Open House visitors can expect
The Edith Cavell building is situated within the Herston Quarter heritage precinct, and will be open for people to explore the beautifully landscaped open spaces or peek inside at the extensive restoration work.
Inside people can view photos of the restoration works, photos from the previous 100 years and the short video from the 100-year rededication.
Doors will be open from 9am to 4pm on both Saturday 15 July and Sunday 16 July.
EDITH CAVELL BUILDING
Part of the Herston Quarter Redevelopment site, the Edith Cavell Building, reminiscent of the “Arts and Craft” architectural era, was completed and opened in 1922.
It was built as a home for nurses working at the Hospital for Sick Children (later the Royal Children’s Hospital). At that time, it was compulsory for nurses to live onsite at hospitals until the 1970s with some nurses choosing to live full-time in this building until the late 1980s.
Initially designed to accommodation 108 nurses, the building also included rooms for sick nurses, storerooms, writing rooms and sitting rooms.
Following the nurses’ departure from the building, it was leased to the University of Queensland Faculty of Medicine and provided a base for the Dean and Executive for many years prior to its revitalization.
In 2020 Australian Unity engaged Hutchinson Builders to rejuvenate the Heritage Precinct at Herston Quarter and in February 2022 the work was completed, with the Edith Cavell Building repurposed as the Australian Unity Brisbane Headquarters.
In acknowledgement of the significant revitalization of the building and to commemorate its 100 years since first being officially opened, a service was held 100 years to the day to rededicate the building on 4 August 2022 with both plaques now appearing in the foyer of the Edith Cavell building.
The revitalisation of the Heritage Precinct included both the Edith Cavell Building and Lady Lamington Nurses Home and Towers making it one of the largest projects of its kind undertaken in Queensland.
When first built, the Edith Cavell Building was dedicated as a standing memorial to British nurse Edith Cavell who cared for wounded soldiers and civilians in the German-occupied Belgium. She was executed in 1915 for helping Allied soldiers escape to England via the Netherlands.
Edith Cavell paid the ultimate price for her duty to her patients. She became a revered figure for her bravery and sacrifice.
WHO WAS EDITH CAVELL?
English-born Edith Louisa Cavell (1865-1915) trained as a nurse at the London Hospital between 1895 and 1898. She moved to Belgium and became Matron of the country’s first nurse training school in 1907.
She is considered the founder of modern nursing in Belgium.
During WWI, Belgium was occupied by the Germans. Edith treated wounded civilians and solider at her hospital – no matter which side they fought on. She soon became part of an underground network of people who helped Allied soldiers escape to England via the Netherlands, which was neutral territory. This was a violation of German military law.
Her heroic story turned tragic in 1915 when her actions were discovered by a spy. She was executed on 12 October 1915 at 49 years of age, but not before helping some 200 soldiers escape to freedom.
On five acres in Brisbane’s inner north, Herston Quarter is part of the Herston Health Precinct. Since the construction of its first building in 1867, the health precinct has expanded to be one of the largest in Australia and encompasses several buildings that hold significant heritage value to Brisbane.
Australian Unity is proudly transforming this site into a vibrant, mixed-use precinct with a number of world-class medical and research facilities dedicated to advancing medical research, education, and practice.
Comprising the award-winning STARS (Surgical, Treatment and Rehabilitation Service) public health facility, UniLodge student and commercial accommodation and complementary uses, the precinct features beautiful landscaping and inviting public spaces.
At the heart of Herston Quarter is the character rich heritage precinct, the historical home of nursing for Brisbane.
The Lady Lamington Nurses’ Home and the Spanish Mission style Lady Lamington North and South Towers were constructed between 1896 and 1939 to provide housing for nursing staff working at the then Royal Brisbane Hospital.
These iconic buildings sit prominently on the highest point of the Herston Quarter and have been meticulously refurbished. In February 2022, the Lady Lamington Nurse’s Home and Towers began a new chapter as student accommodation, a respectful nod to their former use as nurses’ accommodation.