Ardoch is a unique estate of nearly 100 residences located in St Kilda East in Melbourne’s inner south-east suburbs.
Over the years, there have been a number of histories of the place, mostly focusing on Ardoch’s unique architectural characteristics. These can be seen on the Ardoch Village website: ardochvillage.org.au
However, there is so much more to Ardoch than its architecture, however unusual and appealing that may be.
Ardoch has been home to a number of famous and infamous people, and has also generated a number of ‘urban legends’ that residents tend to hear once they move in. For example, it has always been said that Dame Nellie Melba sang from the balcony of what is now known as Wardell House, or colloquially known as ‘The Mansion’. Whether this is true or not is simply not known.
So that these wonderful stories and legends are not lost to time, but remain available to those who are lucky enough to join our urban community, in 2019, a small group of enthusiastic Ardoch residents decided to create a repository of ‘Ardoch Stories’. This website is the outcome of their efforts.
To begin, we investigated the possibility of grant support from various agencies – Creative Victoria, Grants Victoria, the Victorian Heritage Register, the National Library of Australia Heritage Community Heritage Grants scheme, the Royal Historical Society of Victoria and in particular, the Public Records Office of Victoria (PROV). A comprehensive project plan with a realistic budget was developed and submitted, supported by endorsements from a former mayor of the City of Port Philip and the CEO of the Ardoch Youth Foundation. After waiting almost a year before the next round of funding was announced, we were disappointed to find we were not among the grant recipients.
However, such was the commitment of the project participants, we decided to proceed and fund the project ourselves.
We commissioned a professional historian, Claire Levi, to conduct 3 oral histories of significant Ardoch people and to burrow into various repositories of information that might reveal insights into Ardoch’s colourful past. We employed a professional website designer to build a website that would be simple but appealing, and easy to update as new information came to hand. We had old architectural drawings by the developer of Ardoch, dating back to the 1910s, professionally photocopied to preserve their beauty forever.
As convenor of the Ardoch Stories project team, I would like to thank my colleagues, Alan Baskin and Helen Ogg, without whose support and assistance, none of this would have happened.
I hope this website will continue to be a source of interest to many future generations of Ardoch residents and visitors.
Dr Meredith Doig