Historic monument to Women’s Heath and WWI under threat

Victoria University recently announced plans to demolish the former Women’s Venereal Disease Clinic and the adjacent TB Clinic at 364-378 Little Lonsdale Street, just behind the old Births Death and Marriages on Queen Street.

Lt Lonsdale Streetscape under threat
Lt Lonsdale Streetscape under threat

Not only are the two buildings aesthetically attractive in their similar Georgian Revival style red brick, with many notable architectural features, they turn out to be historically important too.

The VD Clinic (Women’s Venereal Disease Clinic) was built in 1919 as a direct response to a public health crisis brought on by soldiers returning from World War I, and bringing this ‘social disease’ with them. The number of cases skyrocketed in 197/18, and it became a major health crisis highlighted by major newspapers of the day. The disease was less prevalent or fatal for women, but if undiagnosed, it was dangerous for their babies, who would often tragically die in infancy.

The TB Clinic, built in 1927, represented the beginnings of state sponsored treatment of another deadly disease now almost forgotten. Treatment was difficult, and it was only with the introduction of penicillin in the 1950 and chest x-ray clinics over the next two decades that saw it practically eradicated.

Women’s venereal clinic as health department in 1973. Photo from State Library of Victoria.

We call on Victoria University to modify their plans to retain at least the front portions of these two attractive and historically significant buildings, and the laneway between, and develop their new tower behind. The buildings could be adaptively re-used, and the laneway form a very Melbourne style entry – the best of both worlds!


Help us protest by sending a copy of this letter VD clinic objection apr 2012 (click link to download word document) to the Planning Minister Matthew Guy.

Media coverage of the threat:

‘A rash decision? Bid to demolish historic VD clinic sparks anger’ – Miki Perkins, The Age, April 12, 2012 link

‘Past imperfect: tracing the arc of life in the swing of a wrecking ball’ Bruce Guthrie, The Age, April 15, 2012 link

‘Heritage Advocates Fight to Save Venereal Disease Clinic’, Interview with MHA president Rupert Mann on Radio National Drive, April 12, 2012link

‘Ninety-nine city buildings ‘sitting ducks for developers’ – Chris Hingston, Melbourne Weekly, Apr 17 , 2012 link

‘Two letters in The Age’ (scroll down to read), 17th April, 2012 –link

One thought on “Historic monument to Women’s Heath and WWI under threat

  1. Hi

    I have an interest in preserving this building.

    Are you still actively involved in its preservation?

    Thanks for your time



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