The weatherboard house at 65 Smith St, Wollongong is on land that was part of the grant to Charles Throsby Smith. It was one of four lots which Smith transferred to Benjamin Marshall when he married Smith’s daughter, Emma in 1850.
The Marshalls sold the land in 1887 to William Robson, manager of the Mt Kera colliery. He sold part of the land to James William Dowson, minister of the Wollongong Wesleyan Church. The Rev. Dowson retired in May 1887 and advertised for tenders to build an eight room weatherboard cottage. (Illawarra Mercury. 5 May 1887 p3) The Dowsons previously lived in Campbell St.
The Dowsons left Wollongong in January 1897 and the house was sold to storekeeper, Thomas Musgrave, and his wife Martha on 29 January 1898 for £400
It was sold again on 1 August 1913 for £750 to Clara Finlayson, wife of Robert Finlayson, bank manager of Wollongong. The house was sold after Clara’s death in 1936. It became the home of the Sirona private school run by Miss Carleen Foss. The school was established in 1932 and relocated from Kembla Street. Miss Foss married in 1943 and her father lived at 65 Smith St until his death in 1945.
The property was acquired in 1945 for the Margaret Wakefield Girls’ Club. The club was established under the name of the wife of the then Governor of NSW with plans for similar clubs to be established throughout NSW.
The club: Primarily for girls in factories, shops, and offices in the various centres, …will provide recreational facilities and light meal services only. Accommodation will not be provided, the field for hostels being left to the YWCA. Special attention will be given to advice on the use of leisure. (Sydney Morning Herald. 17 Jul 1945 p6). Early meetings of the Illawarra Historical Society were held in the clubrooms.
The YWCA purchased the property in 1949 and added hostel accommodation. In 1993, the property became the Richard Johnson College, an affiliate residential college of the University of Wollongong. The College became insolvent in 2012 and the property became the Margaret Mayo Women’s College. The property was sold again in 2015 and since then has been operated as student hostel accommodation.
|65 Smith St sitting room 2017|
|65 Smith St dining room 2017|
|65 Smith St bedroom 2017|
|Heritage Listing -Office of NSW Environment and Heritage|