Hebden Cottages enshrined

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Hebden Cottages enshrined

June 24, 2019

On Saturday November 2, 1911, Sir Thomas A’Beckett, a distant relation of George and Harriet Hebden, using a silver trowel, laid memorial stones for the Hebden cottages.

During the laying of the foundation stones, Sir Thomas remarked: “…it is far better to spend money building comfortable homes for the old pioneers than to waste it placing costly marble headstones over graves.”

Sir Thomas was a distant relation by marriage of George and Harriet, who arrived at Port Jackson on the Coromandel as unassisted immigrants in October 1838.

George was a pioneer pastoralist in the Southern Monaro district of New South Wales. He and Harriet retired to Toorak and St Kilda. Sons George and Charles, and daughter Elizabeth, were well known for quiet philanthropy.

In 1911, there were 76 cottages at Rushall Park. The Hebdens donated two more – one built and endowed by Miss Elizabeth Spencer Hebden, and the other by George and Harriet Hebden. The architect for both cottages was James A Wood.

In the 1960s the Hebden cottages were ‘re-purposed’ to become part of the Nursing Home, with the old lounge rooms being used for eight high level care residents. The kitchen area became part of a wide corridor and main entrance to the nursing home.

The nursing home was demolished in 2013, and all high care residents were re-located to Leith Park at St Helena where it was possible to provide the level of care and facilities appropriate to the era.

The modified Hebden cottages then became a heritage listed site office while the new units were built. Williams Boag of Melbourne were the architects appointed.

Pete Zawacki drove to Leith Park twice a week to visit his mother, Helen, until her death a year ago. After she died he wanted to honour her memory and ‘repay’ the kindness staff showed her by volunteering.

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