Goulburn is fortunate to have a developer like Nicolas Daoud (pictured) embarking on the Marian College project.
He is a man of faith, not just in his religion but in Goulburn and everything it has to offer. He appreciates this site’s importance in the city’s educational and religious history and wants to return some of that to the community.
We are encouraged by the fact that many of the attractive architectural elements in some of the old buildings will be conserved. Some will be used in new structures while others will be utilised in a museum recognising the property’s rich history. In addition, the chapel and former convent will be retained, as indeed they must under heritage controls.
We cannot have it all. Former Our Lady of Mercy College and Marian College students and the Sisters of Mercy naturally have great fondness for the site. They will be saddened by the fact the 1904 EC Manfred designed Saint John’s building in the inner courtyard and the 1870s boarders’ accommodation are destined for the bulldozer.
But the fact remains that few developers are keen to take on these large, historic complexes. Marian College was left vacant after the merged Trinity Catholic College united on one campus and vandalism became rife.
Like the old Saint John’s orphanage, squatters and smashed windows were common.
Soon after Mr Daoud bought Marian College in 2014 he installed caretakers who have stopped this damage and made the site secure. Peter and Pauline Trama also come with a social conscience and are keen to give disadvantaged youth a go with work on the property. So far they have employed 10 people previously on unemployment benefits.
“This is the kind of thing we love – fixing things and helping people,” Mr Trama told The Post.
We are also lucky in Goulburn to have a similar vision in Maggie and Darryl Patterson’s plans for the old Saint Joseph’s orphanage on Taralga Road.
Both projects demonstrate that profit is not a driving force, that core community values and history count for something in the end.
We sometimes knock developers and question their intentions. But in these two cases we’ve encountered something unique that warrants compromise on the heritage we’ve grown to know and love.