Pre 1957 pre-tertiary institution days
In 1890 Stonington was built for John Wagner (pictured right), a wealthy speculator who invested heavily in the Mt Morgan Gold Mines and one of the original partners in the Victorian Cobb and Co. To be designed by Charles D'Ebro 'the erection of a mansion in Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn' was put to tender in The Australian Building and Mining Journal of January 4, 1890. Stephen Armstrong was the successful tenderer with a price of £18,888. Wagner lived with his wife and five children at Stonington for just 10 years. Wagner died in January 1901. His family however continued to administer the estate.
In 1901 a residence was sought for the first governor general for the newly created Commonwealth government. The new Commonwealth Parliament, located in Melbourne agreed that the existing State Government House in the Botanic Gardens precincts was the solution. The existing State Governor Lord Hopetoun was appointed the first Governor General but a replacement State Governor had to be sought as did a suitable residence.
The Wagners moved out of Stonington in time for the arrival of Sir George Sydenham Clarke in December 1901. He was followed in 1904 by Sir Reginald Talbot, Sir Thomas Gibson Carmichael (1908), Sir John Fuller (1911) (pictured left with his family and staff), Sir Arthur Stanley (1914), George Edward John Moubray Rouse, Earl of Stradbroke (1921) and finally Arthur Herbert Tennyson, Lord Somers (1926).
In 1927, with the federal capital in Canberra completed, the Governor General could be re-located to Canberra and it was decided the State Governors returned to the original State Government House. Lord Somers however remained at Stonington until June 1931 before returning to England.
Despite this shift, the estate was purchased in 1928 by the State Government from the Wagner Trust for £35 000, and was leased to St Margaret's Girl's School in 1931 (The 1936 tennis team is pictured left, 1936 running team is pictured right).
Established in 1926 and previously located at the Presbyterian manse and church in Toorak, and with premises in Mayfield Avenue, Toorak, St Margaret's occupied the site until 1938 when the school moved to a new property in Berwick.
The Victorian Health Department took Stonington over in 1938 and converted it to a hospital for the care of children with polio. With the Health Department still using the site, The Australian Red Cross Society under the control of the Australian Army used Stonington as a convalescent hospital from 1940-1953 (pictured left), following the outbreak of the Second World War. The Health Department however continued to use the site as an administrative and service centre specialising in T.B. and Polio and operating immunisation programs.
House guests of Stonington The ghost of Stonington
Stonington's house guests included Madame Nellie Melba, the Duke and Duchess of York (King George VI and Queen Elizabeth), the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII), Lord and Lady Baden-Powell, Lord Kitchener and Lieutenant Shackleton, Sir John Monash, Mr. Keith Murdoch, the Prime Minister and Mrs Bruce and Brigadier-General Blamey.
Stonington is said to have a friendly ghost, that of Christopher Rous, the nine-year-old son of the Earl and Countess of Stradbroke, who died of leukaemia in 1925. He was buried in the garden and his remains were taken back to England when his family returned in 1926.