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Wyreena history

Wyreena history

Saving Wyreena

Over forty years ago a group of passionate community activists began a remarkable journey to save the much loved Wyreena buildings and property from the threat of demolition.

A determined and resourceful group of artists and community members fought to retain the historical buildings and surrounding gardens of the former grand family home and convent for the enjoyment of the community. 

Inspired by their vision for a community arts centre, the group campaigned vigorously, eventually winning the support of the former Croydon City Council as well as the Victorian Government who purchased the property for this purpose. Since its official opening March 1978, the Wyreena Community Arts Centre has remained the creative heart of the Croydon community and has become much loved by people from across Melbourne’s outer eastern region. Artist Kay Scott’s story beautifully conveys the spirit of the times. Her story was been captured on video by Andy Drewitt as part of Wyreena’s 40th Birthday celebrations in 2018.

Today, Wyreena is proudly owned and operated by Maroondah City Council as a thriving Community Arts Centre.


View the four minute version of the video

Wyreena's chronological history

The original Crown lot of Hector Turner, the son of Croydon’s European founder, William Turner, is established.

The Catomore family - Beryl and Charles Catomore and their three children - buy the land, currently a cherry orchard. They clear it and erect their home in 1924, naming it “Hayward”, probably after an ancestral home in England. The land comprises four acres.

Hull Road, Worral Street, Beryl Street and Alwyn Street border the property (as they do today). Two acres are a cultivated garden (including a tennis court) and the house cow grazes the other two.

The architects of the house, Hudson & Wardrop, are also the architects for the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne erected in the previous year.

Following the marriage of the Catomores’ daughter to a Croydon Solicitor, a second 2-storey home is built in the grounds and named “Silver Birches”.

Property sold to the local Catholic parish and renamed Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. The front house is used as a residence for the nuns, while Silver Birches operates as a Commercial College.

Saved from developers by local residents, the property is purchased for $360,000 by the City of Croydon and the Victorian State Government for use as a Community Arts Centre.

Wyreena officially opens as an Arts Centre. Progressive restoration and improvement since that time has been fostered under the guidance of a volunteer committee of management together with the City of Croydon and now the City of Maroondah.

The 20th anniversary of Wyreena Community Arts Centre and the opening of The Conservatory Café and the Adventure Playground.

Silver Birches is extensively renovated inside and out.

Opening of the new Pottery Studios.

Renovation of the entrance and toilets at Silver Birches. This was a joint project with Scope Victoria to provide a more accessible space. An extension was also made to the Conservatory Café kitchen.

Renovation of the Wyreena office and entrance.

Wyreena celebrated 30 years as a Community Arts Centre. As part of these celebrations the ‘Reflections of Wyreena  (pdf, 6MB)’ booklet was developed. This booklet is a compilation of stories contributed by the community, many of whom have been associated with Wyreena since it became a Community Arts Centre in 1978. Some have stories to tell about the nuns who ran the Business College in the 50s and 60s.

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