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Louis Lawrence Smith, trustee for the Australian Dramatic and Musical Association
May 1, 2019
Louis Lawrence was a colourful personality which perhaps was why he was chosen by George Coppin to be one of 12 trustees for the Australian Dramatic and Musical Association.
A politician, medical practitioner and businessman, Louis Lawrence Smith was born in London, the son of a theatre proprietor and entrepreneur. He was educated in London and at the Ecole de Medicine, Paris. In his student days there, he participated in many adventures during the revolution which deposed Louis Phillippe.
Attracted by the discovery of gold in Australia, he joined the Oriental as ship’s surgeon and migrated to Australia in 1852. His stay did not last long. He opened a surgery in Bourke Street in July 1853 and expanded it to include a museum of anatomy and the Polytechnic Hall in 1862.
Until 1881 Smith made the Polytechnic Hall available for theatricals, especially in the 1860s, and he associated with visiting actors such as G. V. Brooke, a friend of George Coppin.
Throughout his life, he was noted for his sparkling and witty conversation, his fashionable dressing and often sporting a diamond ring.
Louis became involved as trustee for Australian Dramatic and Musical Association when it established ‘an asylum for decayed actors’ in 1871 in North Fitzroy. He was involved in the winding up of the Old Actors Homes and their transfer to the Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria in 1907.
In his later years, Louis suffered from gout. He died of pneumonia at East Melbourne on 8 July 1910.
Sanctuary is how artist Gillian Coates describes her home at Currie Park, OCAV’s village in Euroa. “When I go to Melbourne and I am heading back to Euroa, I can’t wait to get home to the peacefulness of this place. It is like a sanctuary for me."