Appalled by conditions at the destitute asylum, Julia Farr starts up an orphanage for girls
Julia Warren Farr came to South Australia in 1854 in a supporting role as the frail wife of St Peter’s College’s second headmaster: the popular and effective George Farr. Ultimately, Julia’s legacy to the state proved as lasting as her husband’s, Julia devotedly helped her husband at the college. Besides supervising the dairy and poultry, she took over the running St Peter’s boarding school.
But, after visits with her friend Caroline Emy Clark, Farr was saddened by the plight of girls in the colony’s destitute asylum. In 1860, she gathered a committee of like-minded women to provide the girls with a home and training them towards earning their own living.
The Anglican Orphan Home was begun on her birthday, August 14, in the former German and British hospital building in Carrington Street, Adelaide, but later moved to 588 Fullarton Road, Mitcham. In 1935, it was renamed Farr House.
Julie Farr’s place on the Orphan Home committee was taken over eventually by her daughter Julia, granddaughter Mary Clift and great granddaughter Joan Clift.
George Farr retired from St Peter’s College in 1878 and Julia helped him with parish work at St. Luke’s in Whitmore Square. But she also turned her energies to planning a home for those with physical disabilities. The first committee was founded in 1878 and a house was bought in Fisher Street, Fullarton, where the building remains.
When the demand grew, more buildings were added and in 1906, when Julia was 82, she laid the foundation stone of a new wing. For more than a century, the home was known as the Home for Incurables but, in 1981, it was renamed the Julia Farr Centre (and now Julia Farr Services).