The Sisters of Mercy Order of Catholic nuns, were brought to Brisbane by Bishop James Quinn in 1861 to instil faith and education in the nascent community. The Sisters established Brisbane’s first Catholic school originally at St Stephen’s before moving to what is now All Hallows in 1863.
The Sisters of Mercy Order later established the Mater Misericordiae Hospital in 1906 in ‘Aubigny’, a residence in North Quay. In 1910, they transferred to their new private hospital, designed by Robin Dods of Brisbane architectural firm, Hall and Dods, on the crest of ten acres at College Hill, South Brisbane. The following year, a public hospital building, also designed by Dods, opened on the site. During subsequent decades, the hospital expanded further with the addition of several extensions including a convent and chapel on the western side of the private hospital (1926) and new buildings such as a chaplain’s residence (1924), and a children’s hospital (1931).
While the extension of services slowed during the Great Depression and World War Two, the post war period and accompanying population growth, through immigration and the ‘baby boom’, saw an increased need for medical services. Perhaps drawing inspiration from the success of the government-run lottery, the Golden Casket, in funding Queensland’s public hospitals, the Sisters established the Mater Prize Home Art Union, which proved popular. A medical school (1956) and Mater Mothers maternity hospital (1960) were opened with the proceeds of the Art Union which was drawn regularly from 1960.
The Mater Art Union contracted architect, John Dawson to design the homes and Les Smith to build them. John Dawson designed the first 100 Mater Prize Homes from 1960 until he passed away in 1975. According to builder Les Smith, the homes incorporated the latest in design, engineering and luxury. They became so popular that by 1967 there was a new one being raffled every 7 weeks. Builder Les Smith stated that he met all the short deadlines and built the homes ‘at cost’ so that all the profits would remain with the Mater. The homes were “built to a very high standard; fully furnished and equipped” and it was a matter of pride for Les Smith that he never had to go back to remedy faults or repair defects. The homes came complete with furnishings and all appliances and often included a car as a book-buyers’ prize.
Mater Prize Home Number 1 was erected in March 1960 and valued at, what was then the huge sum of, £8400. Tickets were 2 shillings each. By 1967 over $1 million worth of Mater homes had been erected and inspected by over 2.5 million people. The homes were open for inspection from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. 7 days a week with each home attracting about 75,000 people. Highly skilled interior designers used modern household equipment and the latest design ideas to create ‘dream homes’ which not only made the lottery highly successful, but had a lasting impact on people’s aspirations for their own homes.
Mater Prize Home No.22 was built on 787 m2 of land in Marshall Road Tarragindi which was purchased by the Corporation of the Trustees of the Order of the Sisters of Mercy in 1963. Tarragindi was first settled as a rural area with land being made available for soldier settlement after World War One. Urban development was slow until the extension of the trams along Ipswich Road to Salisbury in 1940. Urban development intensified following World War Two as War Service and Housing Commission estates were established. Between 1954 and 1966 the population almost doubled from 6,813 to 12,540. Like other suburbs chosen for Mater Prize Homes, Tarragindi was a rapidly developing “new” suburb.
The “delightfully different” “cool and gracious family home” of a “wide sweeping contemporary design” was approved for construction in May 1964 at an estimated cost of £12,000. The 3,000 square feet of floor space featured four large bedrooms, a dining room, ultra modern kitchen, bathroom” and an arresting hexagonal-shaped lounge. The inverted “V” shaped design was created to take full advantage of the site’s wide frontage and featured large windows for cool comfort” and a “well-planned, completely private Barbecue area.
The home was won by Mario and Loris Balestrieri of Charlton Street Ascot, in January 1965. They sold the house a few months afterwards to Robert and Thelma Francey who lived in the house and raised a family there. The property was transferred to Graham and Robyn Francey in 1981. The current owner bought the house, which remains substantially original, in 1983.