The St. John’s Orphanage in Goulburn, New South Wales, has been in disrepair for years. The building was opened 17 March, 1912, and was run by the Sisters of Mercy before closing down in 1978. The building is decaying, with windows and walls either smashed or destroyed. Graffiti covers what remains of the walls, and rubbish is strewn throughout the building. On top of all this, there are claims the building is haunted
During the orphanage’s 66 years of operation, as many as 2,500 boys made their way through its doors. Many of the orphans had, at least, one surviving parent and came from families who couldn’t afford to raise all of their children. During harder times, it was common for poor and larger families to keep the eldest children and leave the younger ones to be cared for by the orphanage.
There are night-time conducted ghost tours of the orphanage, where tour guides tell visitors the lesser-known facts about the building and the town. According to an account made by a former orphan, upon arrival children were issued with one set of clothes and underwear. These clothes were washed once a week and if they became dirty during the week then children were beaten as punishment. Abuse was a common, with many accounts by the staff, older children and the caretaker.
The lot and the building are now owned by Goulburn businessman John Ferrara. In 2009, Mr Ferrara began reconstruction on the building, with the plans of turning the lot into a retirement village. However, by 2013 these plans were scrapped in favour of a 15-lot residential subdivision. This has caused some issues with the Goulburn Heritage Group who strongly object to any proposal that doesn’t involve the restoration of the building. The local council has demanded a schedule of conservation works for the building, yet it remains broken down, with no recent work carried out.
For those interested with the supposed paranormal activity in the town, Goulburn Ghost Tours offer night-time ghost tours of the haunted locations around Goulburn, including the St. John’s Orphanage, that can last for two to three hours. Also in Goulburn is the Kenmore Insane Asylum. An abandoned hospital considered to be one of the most haunted locations in New South Wales
Yesterday, 4 November, the roof of the St. John’s Orphanage collapsed after a fire started within the historic building. NSW Fire and Rescue Inspector Trent Lawrence said the fire, fanned by the wind, caught hold on the second storey and spread into the roof at about 4pm. Some 50 firefighters responded, with crews from Goulburn, Crookwell and Moss Vale as well as members of the Rural Fire Service. Just before 6pm they were joined by an aerial appliance brought from St. Andrew’s that would allow them access to the roof and help with getting an overall view of the hotspots.
Police Inspector Matt McCarthy was also onsite and informed the Goulburn Post that would only investigate the fire if it was deemed suspicious. Fire investigators are assessing the cause of the fire. Owner of the building John Ferrara, who said he was in Bankstown when the fire started, said he was very disappointed and did not wish to comment any further, except to say the building was not insured.
This article was republished from Matthew Kearins.