St Vincent's Hostel was opened in 1924 by the Christian Brothers in Albert Park for boys who had been apprenticed in the city but could not afford to pay private board. St Vincent's Hostel closed in June 1967.
Despite objections to the hostel opening by neighbours, on 24 August 1924 St Vincent's Hostel opened at 75 St Vincent's Place with room for 22 boys. In Holding onto Hope "one of the hostel residents recalled that the boys were still supervised by a Brother and...[had] to ask permission to go out."
In 1936, the Hostel was renovated to incorporate the three buildings at 73, 75 and 77 St Vincent Place. It began to be managed separately from the St Vincent de Paul Orphanage for Boys although was still financially supported by the Orphanage. Following the renovation, it provided accommodation for 36 boys. The Hostel included a chapel, dormitories, recreation and dining rooms, and separate rooms for older boys.
At the time of its reopening in 1936 there was a formal event which included music and dramatic performances by the residents. There continued to be an annual concert in the Hostel hall. From this time, annual retreats at La Verna commenced for many boys living at the Hostel.
Sport was a significant component of life at the St Vincent's Hostel with boxing, handball, and football teams. The boys competed in the Y.C.W. Boxing competitions and often won the title. They also competed in handball championships and raised funds for a handball court at the Hostel.
The numbers continued to grow, with 40 boys in residence in 1937, and 50 boys by 1943. The boys were aged between 14 and 19 years old, although most boys commonly left at 18. The Christian Brothers often put calls in the Advocate to ask for community support for the Hostel and the boys within it.
The St Vincent de Paul Orphanage for Boys annual report published in the Advocate in 1943 describes life at the Hostel:
He pays his own board as far as possible, buys his own clothes and spends his own pocket-money. He goes and comes with just sufficient supervision and with the necessary paternal encouragement to enable him to gain skill and confidence for life in the world...they remain until they are mature enough and have sufficient money to pay their own way at a selected boarding house.
In 1953, it was reported in The Advocate that 12 boys aged 14-18, who had previously lived in the Orphanage "would like to be invited to stay with Catholic families during the Easter week-end."
The St Vincent's Hostel closed in 1967.
Sources used to compile this entry: Retreats at "La Verna", Advocate, 9 Jul 1936, 20 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article171920543; St Vincent's Boys' Hostel, Advocate, 17 Sep 1936, 13 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article171922647; St Vincent's Hostel - Entertainment by the Boys, Advocate, 19 Sep 1936, 6 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article164472707; Hostel Concert, The Argus, 15 Dec 1937, 9 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11132790; St. Vincent de Paul's Boys' Orphanage, Sth. Melbourne - Annual Report, Advocate, 7 Jan 1943, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article172204458; Boys want Easter accommodation, Advocate, 2 Apr 1953, 16 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article175359192; Barnard, Jill; Twigg, Karen, Holding on to Hope: a history of the founding agencies of MacKillop Family Services 1854-1997, Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne, 2004.
Prepared by: Nicola Laurent
Created: 8 February 2022