|ACLAND ST - ST KILDA - MELBOURNE|
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St Kilda gained its name in 1841, when a cargo yacht ‘Lady of St. Kilda’ was anchored in Port Philip Bay. A reference by a colonial historian, Henry Gyles Turner suggests that the place was named after the yacht, and another source claims that Charles La Trobe made the suggestion.
In December, 1842, allotments from a government survey were sold in the vicinity of Fitzroy Street and Lower Esplanade. Further lots were sold between 1846-51, by which time St. Kilda was becoming an address for the wealthier strata of Melbourne society. St Kilda Hill and Fitzroy Street became dotted with the mansions of politicians, land-boomers, doctors and squatters while their servants lived on the Balaclava flats.
The route to St. Kilda from Melbourne was a sandy track, commencing at a bridge over the Yarra River. The track was unsafe for travellers, and Strutt's ‘Bushrangers’ painting was reputedly inspired by an event on the St. Kilda road. An early hotel at St. Kilda, the Royal, was functioning by 1849.
Churches and schools began in St. Kilda in 1849, establishing a rich pattern of religious and educational institutions. The Anglicans opened Christ Church and a school in 1851 and the present building in Acland Street in 1854; a second parish, All Saints, opened its church in Chapel Street in 1861. The Catholic church opened a church and school in 1853 in St. Kilda East. The Wesleyans arrived in 1853 and in 1857 built a church in Fitzroy Street. The Presbyterians acquired a church in 1855 and the Free Presbyterians in 1864. Both churches built permanent buildings in Chapel Street.
In 1857 Australia’s first passenger railway line was built from Melbourne to St. Kilda, bringing increased patronage to the privately run sea baths, the jetty promenade and the St. Kilda Cup, run at a racecourse near the Village Belle hotel. Cricket and bowling clubs were formed in 1855 and 1865. By the mid 1860s St. Kilda had about fifteen hotels including the George, formerly the Seaview (1857). By 1863, St. Kilda was a borough, having been proclaimed a municipality separate from Melbourne city on 24 April, 1855.
In 1870 Moritz Michaelis, a Jewish importer and merchant, built ‘Linden’, a residence at 26 Acland Street. The next year he and several other Jewish residents formed the St. Kilda Hebrew Congregation. Michaelis laid the foundation stone for a synagogue in Charnwood Street. When he died in 1902, St. Kilda had a well-established Jewish community with a landmark synagogue at the corner of St. Kilda and Toorak Roads and several religious and educational institutions extending eastwards to Elwood and Caulfield.
The next half century saw St Kilda's fortunes plummet with two devastating depressions and two World Wars. St Kilda gained a reputation for crime, prostitution, and drugs. However it was also an entertainment mecca, a bohemian location for artists and writers, and an accepting home for members of the Gay, Aboriginal and other communities under pressure. Sydney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester, Mirka Mora all painted and lived in St Kilda.
The community campaign to build St Kilda Library in 1973 was a turning point.
In the 1980's the 'Turn the Tide' alliance swept the council elections vowing to oppose over-development, promote community housing and support the disadvantaged. The renovation of that landmark hotel, 'The George', by Donlevy Fitzpatrick was a milestone for renaissance of St Kilda's economic fortunes.
Today backpackers, visitors and Melbournians still flock to Carnival St Kilda to experience its cosmopolitan cafes, Sunday market, cake shops, beaches, pubs, historic buildings and characters.
|Village Belle Hotel c. 1881|
|Village Belle Hotel c. 2008|
St Kilda Soldiers' Memorial Hall c. 1881
|St Kilda Soldiers' Memorial Hall c. 2008|
|Victory Theatre c. 1881|
|National Theatre c. 2008|