Wellington Grange is a stone mansion house that dates from the 1850’s. It was built by John Fisher and he lived in what was described as a ‘desirable and commodious gentleman’s residence until his death. In 1899, the trustees of his estate agreed to lease the property to a local group who were seeking to set up a homeopathic hospital, that would go one to become only the second hospital of its type established in the southern hemisphere.
The Hobart Homeopathic Hospital was opened on 26 September 1899 by Sir Edward Braddon, the Tasmanian Premier, on Cascade Road South Hobart. It had 23 beds and was a training school for nurses. Descriptions from the time stated that “Viewed from the Cascades Road, the house, which stands a little off the road in the midst of four and a half acres of land, is a solid square building of grey stone, showing eight windows to the north. The avenue leading to the house is from the Cascades Road, and the principal entrance to the building faces the east, on which side there are five windows.
The house carries with it one acre of land; but there are in addition three and a half acres attached, a portion of which is let to a market gardener. Should, therefore, the property be at any time bought by the hospital committee they will have the abundant grounds necessary for a large hospital, and the confirmation of the building at present on the land will adapt itself to any mode of enlargement which might be adopted.
The house is built of stone, with slate roof, and has been thoroughly overhauled at considerable cost, and is now in first-class order. The drainage, ventilation, and all the adjuncts necessary for making it a perfect hospital, on a small scale, have been carried out under the supervision and to the satisfaction of the secretary and engineering inspector of the Central Board of Health. The internal arrangements are in harmony with the exterior of the building. The rooms are large and lofty, well ventilated, and fitted with all necessary for the comfort of patients and those having care of them.
The ground floor is occupied by the hospital staff, and the upper floor contains the wards for patients - one for men, one for women, and a third for children." It was reported at the time of the opening that the patients could breathe the pure air from Mount Wellington and the eye of the sick person would be gladdened by the varied scenery by which the property is surrounded.
The hospital operated successfully for approx 30 years before falling on hard times. By March 1930 the Hospital was having financial difficulties and it was taken over by the Anglican Church in 1932, re-named as St John’s Hospital. During the 1930’s the management started an expansion program of the facility with the addition of operating theatres and more wards with the final outcome aimed at producing a self contained institution.
St John’s was steadily developed throughout the 20th century to become the thoroughly modern hospital of today. However, the Wellington Grange Mansion house remains at the very heart of the hospital to this day.