Moorabbin Historical Society celebrates 60 years
GLEN EIRA NEWS October 2020
October marks the 60th anniversary of the Moorabbin Historical Society.
We spoke with Joan Moore and Carol Poole about the early years of the Society and plans for the future.
Congratulations on your 60th anniversary. When and how was the Society established?
Local historian Tom Sheehy instigated, organised and motivated the first meeting on 26 October 1960 at Moorabbin Town Hall, where it was resolved that an historical society be formed in Moorabbin. The name “City of Moorabbin Historical Society” was later adopted. Early members included Clarice Whitehead, Nance Blackman, Joan Marshall and Hazel Deam, along with Les Schumer who contributed valuable records to the Society in those early years.
The Society moved around quite a bit before finding its permanent home at Box Cottage, Ormond. Tell us about that.
At first the Society met wherever we could, including at some people’s homes. It later operated out of a home called Healey’s, formerly The Grange, and at times from Moorabbin Town Hall. In the early 1980s, the Society left The Grange after it was broken into and most of the Society’s collection stolen. The property was later sold and demolished.
Around the same time, local timber merchant Laurie Lewis drew attention to the historic, but slightly dilapidated Box Cottage on his Ormond property. In 1983, Moorabbin Council gave permission for the cottage to be relocated to Joyce Park next to his business on Jasper Road.
Laurie donated the timber so that the Cottage could be reconstructed. He also donated the timber for the barn to be built at a later date. By 1984, the reconstruction of Box Cottage was well underway. A lease was arranged by Council and the Moorabbin Historical Society had finally found its home.
Can you tell us a bit about the collection?
Much of the original collection was unfortunately stolen from The Grange in the early 1980s. The Society soon set about re-building its collection with donations from locals.
The cottage itself is a reconstruction of a small settler’s cottage, c.1840s. Box Cottage is named after long standing residents William and Elizabeth Box, who lived there from 1865 to 1914 with their 11 children. Many of the original cottage’s items have been incorporated. The Cottage Museum also houses an interesting eclectic collection of historical artefacts and photos that have been generously donated over the last 50 years by local residents.
A lot of work has been done by members over the years to make the Cottage and barn a showcase of how the early settlers lived and worked in the area, and this work is still ongoing today.
How did the 1994 Council amalgamations affect the Society?
The amalgamations meant that the City of Moorabbin was split three ways between the new councils of Bayside, Glen Eira and Kingston. The Moorabbin Historical Society, being located in the new Glen Eira area, soon found itself straddling two councils – much of our history in Kingston, and our governance in Glen Eira. We enjoy working with both councils and both are very supportive of the Society to this day.
You’ve always played an important role in the community. What are some of the events and activities you are most proud of?
The Cottage has always opened on the last Sunday of each month, staffed entirely by volunteers. Over the years we have had visits from local schools and we have also visited schools to do historical presentations. The Society has also held history displays at Southland Shopping Centre and Bentleigh Shopping Centre.
We’ve produced regular newsletters over the years and we are cataloguing and photographing our artefacts so that they can be viewed on the Box Cottage pages within the Victorian Collections website.
What do you wish for in your 60th year and beyond?
In our 60th year, the present committee and members are passionately involved in keeping the Society going. Our hope is that we can attract some more members a bit younger than us to join and take the Society to its 100th birthday.