197 Danks Street
Prabhupada House (originally Montalto) is the oldest building beach-side from Victoria Avenue to Fraser Street. It was built in 1876 in the Italianate style for Thomas Abercrombie Mouat, a prominent Emerald Hill businessman and Justice of the Peace. For over a decade it stood in splendid isolation on the sand dunes, some 200 metres from the beach. It was referred to as ‘Mouat’s Folly’, seemingly a ‘castle built on sand’. In the late 1890’s it was bought by James Alston, a manufacturer of farm machinery, notably windmills, who had moved from Warrnambool to set up a modern factory in South Melbourne.
When the Alstons built the Majella mansion in St Kilda Road, the property was acquired by the Middle Park Catholic parish in 1917. The Our Lady of Mount Carmel College for boys, staffed by Christian Brothers, was then established. In the early 1920’s the adjacent red-brick building was constructed to house classrooms.
After the school closed down in the mid 1970’s the complex was bought by The International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Extensive renovations and internal modifications were carried out to create among other facilities a temple area and an administrative centre. The mansion is now called Prabhupada House after the founder of ISKCON.
The Middle Park History Group is anxious to hear from past students of the college who can provide information to fill in the considerable gaps in our knowledge of the history of the school. Contact: Middle Park History Group, PO Box 5276, Middle Park 3206. MPHG website email or firstname.lastname@example.org For further reading please see Chapter 4 of MPHG book Middle Park - From Swamp to Suburb.
Thanks to Member: Edward Boyle