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During the early 1900’s the Marist Fathers of Sydney were negotiating with the Mother General of the Marist Sisters from France about establishing a foundation in Sydney.
In 1908, Mother Melanie established the first community of Marist Sisters in Hunters Hill. The Sisters had temporary accommodation in Alexandra Street for six months. With the help of Father Huault, a Marist Priest, they found the present site at Woolwich Road. Despite the very rocky and steep land, they decided to set up a Boarding and Day School for Young Ladies.
The Sisters purchased the stately two-storey house from the Usher family for £3000 in 1908. In the serene atmosphere overlooking the Lane Cove River a touch of France was transplanted, and the College was established. In 1909 there were 12 boarders and 20 day pupils. From 1910 the College enrolled both boys and girls in the primary grades. Two wings were added to the house and the College proper (the original Chavoin House) was built with wooden verandas. These were replaced with brick arches in 1924.
Both primary and secondary education continued at the College until 1942. In 1942 the College was evacuated to St Anne’s, Mittagong because the war in the Pacific presented a growing danger. In 1943 only 7 Sisters and 30 pupils remained at Woolwich. In 1944 the Junior boarders returned with an enrolment of 105. A modern Science lab was built during this year. In 1945 peace was declared and the students from Mittagong returned to Woolwich. However, the novices did not return, as a new Novitiate was opened at Merrylands in 1946.
The 1950’s and 1960’s were building years at the College. In 1950 two tennis courts were built and the opening of a new convent wing took place in 1954. In 1956 two classrooms to form St John’s were built. In 1957 bath sheds fronting the College baths were constructed.
Until 1960, the convent and the old Marian House sufficed with 294 students, six religious and four lay teachers. In 1960 the upper floor of St John’s (Marcellin) building was added. In 1961 fund raising began for the new chapel which was finally completed and blessed in 1966. In 1963 it was announced that the Primary School would leave Woolwich and move to another location. The College from 1964 would be only a secondary school and a Regional School for the area. In 1966 there were no graduates as high school was extended from 5 to 6 years. With the aid of the Archdiocesan Building Authority and Federal Government aid, 1966 saw the building of a new lock, Chanel House, consisting of six classrooms and two science rooms to relieve the ‘sardine squash’. In 1969 there were 518 girls, 14 teachers (nine religious and five lay).
1971 was a sad year as it saw the last of the boarders. The 70’s saw many innovations in educational resources. Three classrooms were added under Chanel house.
In 1980 the Sisters moved to Marian House and 64 Woolwich Road and the former convent was converted into 6 classrooms in 1985. It was home to the seniors until the conversion to the House System in 1992, and is now Colin House.
In 1991 the Chavoin building was demolished and the new three storey Chavoin was built with three Science labs, a large preparation lab, a new Library, Textile and Design rooms and two Computer Labs as well as classrooms. While Chavoin was being rebuilt eight demountable classrooms were brought to Jaricot Park, previously a playground. Six demountables remained and became Jaricot House in 1992. In 1992 the House System was established, with the addition of two new Houses, Jaricot, named after Pauline Jaricot and Perroton House, after Marie Francoise Perroton, founder of the Missionary Lay Sisters.
The entire school population was now divided into 6 houses, each divided into 6 tutor groups. Tutor groups had members from every year, one’s entire College life at Woolwich was with the same tutor and tutor group. In 1994 the Chapel was converted to an all purpose hall with the addition of a mezzanine level. The PJ Eymard Hall could hold the entire College Assembly.
1998 was again a building year with the refurbishment of the original Usher House. The Staff and administration areas were renovated and many original features restored. The College population is now edging close to 800, and there are 60 teachers, with a religious Principal.
The growing College population resulted in the addition of one Tutor group for each House in 1999. There are now seven Tutor groups in each of the six Houses.