MARY KEHOE CENTRE – A PRISM OF VICTORIAN SOCIETY
28 MAY 2022
We all know the house at 224 Danks Street as the Mary Kehoe Community Centre. But the house, originally known as Somerset, has had quite an eventful history over its 120 years of life. Max Nankervis using much historical research gave the back story to the building we know as the Mary Kehoe Centre.
Max based his story around the lives of the Shaw family. James and his two sons in 1853 were among the many migrants from Scotland making the hazardous journey to Australia aboard sailing ships that brought huge families (few surviving to adult hood) in their quest for new lives, respectability, and a fortune.
John Shaw (son of James) and his wife Julia Osborn Payne were the first occupants of Somerset in 1902 (later the Mary Kehoe Centre). The Shaw’s story is the story of successful migrants contributing to business life in Emerald Hill including as ginger beer makers, drapers and property developers (John Shaw). They were middle class people who attended church (Baptist and Anglican) and were involved in social movements of the time such as the temperance movement (Julia)
Following the Shaw’s, the house had a rich history of owners and tenants, including the Good Shepherd sisters and finally the City of Port Phillip, the current owners.
University of the Third Age Port Phillip was given tenancy of the Mary Kehoe Centre in 2003 and has fought to keep it, but that is another story for Max Nankervis, historian, and town planner to tell on another day.
Judith Klepner, former COPP councillor and fierce advocate for the Centre, was an able facilitator.
A recording of the seminar is available HERE.