27-01-1868: Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

The Victorian Asylum and School for the Blind was formed at a public meeting in Prahran, Melbourne on 21 August 1866. Less than two years later, on the 25th of January 1868 the Hon. George Harker laid the foundation stone for the new building to be erected on St Kilda road. The architects chosen for the asylums design were Crouch & Wilson.

In 1891 the Asylums name was formally changed to the “Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind” (RVIB) and as at 2012,  the original building now hosts a Belgian Beer Hall and Restaurant.

The most historical, and striking feature, is the original Ferguson & Urie stained glass window in the stairwell.

Photos kindly contributed by Mrs Noelle Nathan, taken 16th July 2012.

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The Argus Melbourne, Monday 27th January 1868, page 6.


“On Saturday the memorial stone of the Asylum and School for the Blind – a building now being erected on the St. Kilda road was laid by the Hon. G. Harker. It had been originally intended that the ceremony should be performed some weeks ago by Prince Alfred, and we are informed that a promise to that effect was made by the Royal Reception Commission; but shortly before His Royal Highness’s departure a communication was received to the effect that it would be impossible for him to fulfill the promise…”

“…This institution was started about eighteen months since, but it is only about a year since it was brought to working order…”

Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers, Melbourne, Tuesday 3rd March 1868, page 4.

“…The third storey will be devoted to paying pupils, and the staircase window is to be of stained glass…”

The Argus, Melbourne, Saturday 1st August 1891, page 5

“… PROPOSED CHANGE OF TITLE. Mr. Alston moved that the title of the institution be changed to “The Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind: subject to the consent of Her Majesty to the use of the prefix. It had been felt that under its present title some misapprehension existed in regard to the objects of the institution, which were primarily to supply an education of a scholastic, musical, and industrial character to its inmates. Mr. Crews seconded the motion, which was carried…”

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