The Orphan Home was established in Stepney in 1860 by a group of members of the Church of England. Run by an independent management committee that reported to the Diocese of Adelaide, the Orphan Home was for girls of primary school age. In 1861 it moved to Carrington Street, Adelaide and then in 1908 to Fullarton Road, Upper Mitcham. In 1935 the Home was renamed Farr House.
In 1860 a small group of members of the Church of England who were disturbed by poor conditions in the Destitute Asylum in Adelaide planned the establishment of a small institution to house neglected children in a more home-like environment. That same year six girls were brought together at the Stepney home of an infant teacher and church member, Mrs Gamble.
Shortly afterwards, the committee took over the run-down former British and German Hospital in Carrington Street which they refurbished and opened in 1861 with a sign above the gate, Orphan Home. Seven girls, most of primary school age, were placed in the Home. They attended daily and weekly worship and were trained in the domestic arts as they were expected to leave the home at sixteen and enter service.
The Orphan Home remained in Carrington Street until 1908 when the deterioration of the building forced the management committee to seek an alternative premises. In 1908 it purchased the former home of Mr O'Halloran Giles on Fullarton Road at Upper Mitcham and seventeen girls were moved there.
The Mitcham building had 16 rooms, a laundry and 'excellent lavatories'. With more extensive grounds, there was room to develop a playground and plant a vegetable garden. Space was also available for keeping a cow and hens.
A newspaper report on the official opening in August 1909, concluded that:
Altogether the lot of the poor orphans ought to be made an exceedingly happy one in the beautiful home nestling at the foot of the hills and overlooking the beautiful scenery of the plains and gulf, for which Mitcham is renowned.
The management committee decided to advertise the Home so that clergymen in country areas would become aware of its existence. As a result of this, during its later years of operation the number of girls in the Home rose to an average of thirty.
In 1935, when the Orphan Home was incorporated, it was renamed Farr House after Mrs Julia Farr whose hard work had been integral to the establishment and continued operation of the home.
1860 - 1935 The Orphan Home
1935 - 1982 Farr House
Sources used to compile this entry: 'THE NEW ORPHAN HOME', The Advertiser (Adelaide, South Australia), 16 August 1909, p. 8, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5754366; Dickey, Brian, Giving a hand: A history of Anglicare SA since 1860, Anglicare SA, Adelaide, 2003; George, Karen, Finding your own way, Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc., 2005, http://nunku.org.au/resources/; Hardy, Mabel, The first hundred years of the Orphan Home, Adelaide, Inc., Adelaide, 1960.
Prepared by: Karen George and Gary George
Created: 31 July 2013, Last modified: 2 November 2017