The Melbourne Campus at Fitzroy, incorporating Central Hall, was established in 2000 after ACU's existing two Melbourne campuses (Mercy and Christ) were formally amalgamated. Mercy and Christ had both been colleges of the Victorian Institute of Catholic Education between 1975 and 1990.
At the heart of the Fitzroy neighbourhood stands historic Central Hall, previously known as Cathedral Hall, which has stood at 20 Brunswick Street, near the Victoria Parade corner, since 1904. Connected to the hall is the old Exhibition Boot Factory which, having provided the hall with a foyer, cloakroom, ticket office and club rooms, has been recently restored and renovated.
Built in 1873, the Boot Factory turned out footwear for the Exhibition Boot Company for nearly 30 years before it was bought by the then Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Thomas Joseph Carr in 1902.
Archbishop Carr set about refurbishing the Boot Factory to provide the Catholic community with its own class, club and meeting rooms. The facility was opened in 1903 when Archbishop Carr also bought two adjacent properties and it is here where Central Hall was built and opened in 1904, followed by a supper room, opened in 1908.
Since then, this complex of buildings has served the local Catholic and wider community as the venue for congresses, concerts, lectures, meetings and socials, and provided nearby Catholic schools with an assembly hall.
Central Hall was showing real signs of wear and tear when custodianship was handed to ACU six years ago but it gained state heritage listing in February 2002. From that point, the University has embarked on a restoration program to return the Central Hall complex back to its former glory.
The supper room was the first to be restored, with a contribution to the project from the National Institute of Youth Performing Arts, and a fully restored and renovated Boot Factory, providing office and teaching space, was reopened in November 2005.
Reopened in October 2007, the restoration of Central Hall was made possible through generous contributions from the Ian Potter Foundation and the Archdiocese of Melbourne. The magnificently restored hall now provides space for music and drama students and community groups, and will once again play a pivotal role in Catholic life as well as provide a focal point for the intellectual and cultural life of the University.
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