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Medical Superintendents' Building

Short history of the Medical Superintendents' Building

Medical Superintendents Building
Medical Superintendent's Building Photo: George Serras.
1940 Construction started on a house for the Medical Superintendent of the Canberra Hospital. It was designed by hospital architect Leighton Irwin, constructed from Canberra made bricks, built by local builder C Banks of Flinders Way, Griffith, for the sum of 3,796 pounds.
1943 House completed. It became the home of Medical Superintendent Dr Lewis Windemere Nott, Doris Nott, two adult daughters and a 12 year old son; Lyndal, Joy and David. The family’s prize winning red setters also came to live with them.
1949 Dr LW Nott elected as ACT’s first Federal Member of Parliament, so the family moved out of the house, and into the Hotel Kurrajong. The dogs stayed.

Dr William Hillyer appointed as Acting Medical Superintendent. He took on this role several times between 1949 and 1951. Electoral rolls indicate he lived in the house. After his second marriage to a nurse who trained at the Canberra hospital, he moved to Townsville.
1950

Dr Lloyd Olver appointed Medical Superintendent. He came from Harley St, London. He resigned in June 1951 to resume his clinical and surgical practice in Canberra.

1951

Dr Albert Lane was appointed as Medical Superintendent, despite his appointment being challenged by the RSL. He lived in the house with his wife Clair, and two daughters Elizabeth and Mary-Lou. The girls were keen horse riders, and Mary-Lou trained as a nurse.

1964

Dr Nobby Elvin became Clinical Superintendent following a staffing restructure. His wife, Elizabeth, and four children and a dog lived in the house and loved swimming and boating on the lake. They enjoyed the fruit trees from the garden, and their special tree was the oak at the side of the house.

1976

Denise and Paul McCann moved into the house, which they called the “Hospital House” a short time after their marriage. They redecorated the house and enjoyed using the hospital facilities; tennis courts, squash courts and swimming pool. Three of their children were born during their residency. They felt privileged to live, like the Governor General, by the lake.


1986

House offered for rental to Allan Hicks (Deputy General Manager – Hospital Services division) and his partner Margaret Conley. Allan was responsible for aspects of running of ACT Health Services at a time of immense change – the Canberra Hospital was about to be merged with Woden Hospital, and was eventually closed.

1995

ACT Palliative Care society used the house as office accommodation for their staff and a training centre for their palliative care volunteers. They called it “The Cottage” as an abbreviation of its full name, the “Mary Potter Cottage” after the founder of the order involved in running the Hospice - the Little Company of Mary.

1997

ACT Government prepared to demolish the buildings on the former hospital site, concern was expressed by the Australian Heritage Commission that the Hospital Cottage be clearly exempted from demolition.

2000

ACT Palliative Care society moved out of the house, much to the disappointment and regret of many volunteers.

2001

Canberra community members expressed the desire to have the building used for health related activities.

NCA offered the building for the use of the National Museum of Australia.


2002


Refurbished for NMA staff who moved in during April.


2004


Listed on Commonwealth Heritage list.

2008

Staff from the Centre for Historical Research occupied the building.


Garage turned into office space, lounge room divided.


The house has not changed fundamentally since its construction in 1943. The house, and its surrounding area is recognisable, familiar and valued to those who have had a part in its history.