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The Stonnington History Centre is an archive dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of the City of Stonnington and the former cities of Malvern and Prahran. The centre is a branch of the Stonnington Library and Information Service and is housed at Northbrook, located behind the Malvern Library.
The centre’s collection includes books, journal articles, photographs, Malvern building plans, maps, subdivision plans, rate records, newspapers, research notes, and general local history information. The online catalogue is a descriptive index to the collection which also includes scans of most photographs and some full text documents. Malvern Historical Society refers enquiries to the centre as it does not maintain a separate local history collection. There is no separate Stonnington Historical Society.
Requests for information are welcome. Please note that fees apply for some services.
Donations of relevant material are invited from community organisations, businesses and individuals.
For further information, please contact us.
Family History Club
Curious about your ancestors? Whether you are a beginner or an experienced family history researcher, come and join our friendly monthly group where you can meet with fellow enthusiasts and explore the many genealogy resources available at the Stonnington History Centre.
First Wednesday of the Month, 3-4.30pm: 7 February, 7 March, 4 April, 2 May, 6 June
Australian Heritage Festival events in Stonnington
History Matters: Alicia Cerreto - Alice Meyer von Forell
Between the end of World War II and about 1980, hundreds of Stonnington residents would have had dance, deportment or debutante lessons with the formidable Alice Meyer von Forell. She and her husband Hans Meyer had a reputation as experts in the field of diplomacy and European languages, but their public face hid a private wartime story of life in internment camps in Australia.
Alicia Cerreto is a professional historian. Her most recent book is Berry Street 140 Years: Restoring Trust and Hope, a history of Berry Street, Victoria's largest independent child and family services organisation. Alicia is passionate about bringing stories from the past into the present and in working with community groups to share their histories with a wider audience.
Wednesday 18 April, 10am-11am
Book online or telephone 8290 1360.
Guided tour of Malvern Town Hall
Come on a guided tour of the Malvern Town Hall with the Mayor Councillor Steve Stefanopoulos, and explore the beautiful interior architecture, which features Queensland maple panelled walls, terrazzo floors, intricate plaster ceilings and walls, and elaborate Victorian style staircase. Commence the tour with an illustrated talk showcasing historic photographs of the Malvern Town Hall from 1886 in the Council Chamber. 2 hours.
Wednesday 2 May, 10am – 12.00pm
Bookings required. Book online.
Guided tour of the Stonnington History Centre, Northbrook
Come on a behind-the-scenes tour of the working archives of the Stonnington History Centre, see some of our precious records, and learn about the programs and resources available for conducting your own research. The Stonnington History Centre manages the historic records of Stonnington Council and the former municipalities of Malvern and Prahran, and is housed in the Italianate villa Northbrook (designed by Charles D’Ebro and built in 1888-89), 1257 High Street, Malvern (behind Malvern Library). 1 hour.
Wednesday 9 May, 10am – 11am
Bookings required. Book online or telephone 8290 1360.
Malvern Civic Precinct Heritage Walk
Come on a guided heritage walk of the Malvern Civic Precinct with the Mayor Councillor Steve Stefanopoulos. Beginning at the Stonnington History Centre (1257 High Street, behind Malvern Library), explore: Northbrook (the house, ballroom and stables); St Joseph’s Church and Presbytery (Stanhope Street); the former Malvern Fire Station (now Firestation Print Studio in Willis Street); the former ES&A Bank; Malvern Square and sculptures; St George’s Anglican Church (the church, hall and vicarage); Malvern Police Station and Court House; and finishing at Malvern Town Hall. 2 hours.
Wednesday 16 May, 10am – 12.00pm
Bookings required. Book online.
The Australian Heritage Festival is supported through funding from the Australian Government’s National Trusts Partnership Program.
By our Deeds: Reflections on terms in the Mayoral Office
A series of interviews were conducted in 2016 by journalist Andrew Dodd with nine former mayors of the municipality of Stonnington, and the former municipalities of Prahran and Malvern. Those interviewed were Ann Morrow (the first female mayor of Malvern), Chris Gahan, John Chandler, Barry Fenton, Anne O’Shea, Ray Lang, Leonie Hemingway (nee Burke), Melina Sehr and the late Claude Ullin.
The interviews provide an insight into the nature of the tier of government that is most accountable to voters. The experiences of those who sit in the mayoral office is revealed through the stories they tell of the issues that brought them into council, of the torrid times during municipal amalgamation and the many battles lost and won.
Thirty minutes of highlights of the interviews can be heard in this podcast.
Who's been sleeping in my Stonnington home?
Have you ever wondered who walked the hallway floorboards before you? Or maybe you'd like to know the year that your house was built. and whether it has ever been extended?
Stonnington's History Centre can answer all these questions and more about a house or commercial property in the area, with My Stonnington Home Research Portfolio. For a fee of $280 we will compile a summary report and copies of historic documents (which may include photographs or building plans if available), delivered in a presentation folder.
See our page on researching houses and properties for more information and an order form. You can also purchase a gift certificate for this service from any of Stonnington's libraries.
The History Centre recently received material relating to: the Malvern Harriers; Mary Duffy, the first female mayor of Prahran; and the Sellars family (one-time owners of Northbrook).
The Stonnington History Centre is on Pinterest
Discover more of the history of Stonnington through our Stonnington History Centre Pinterest.
Visiting the Stonnington History Centre
Opening hours and conditions of access and use of the Stonnington History Centre and its resources.
Contact the Stonnington History Centre
Contact the Stonnington History Centre to make an appointment to view our records or to provide assistance with your research inquiry.
Frequently asked questions
Find answers to frequently asked local history research questions, such as 'What sort of information will the Sands and McDougall postal directories or Council rate books provide?', 'How can I research my family history in Stonnington?', and 'How can I find out if my house had a name?'.
Research fees and charges
We encourage you to conduct your own research. Begin by exploring our website and searching our catalogue. Where our assistance is required, a charge is incurred after the first half hour.
Ordering copies of photographs and other material
You can order digital or print copies of many items in the Stonnington History Centre's collection. Fees and charges apply.
Researching houses and properties
Conduct your own research into a house or property in Stonnington, or commission the Stonnington History Centre to prepare a My Stonnington Home portfolio for you, or as a gift.
Information on all local newspapers distributed in Stonnington, and in the former cities of Malvern and Prahran, from 1857 to the present.
Rate books for the former cities of Malvern and Prahran were prepared annually from 1856 to 1994. Malvern's rate records can be viewed at the Stonnington History Centre. DVD Rom sets of Prahran's rate records may be borrowed from Stonnington libraries. Guides in their use can also be found here.
Street name changes
If you are researching a street in Stonnington that is not listed in the current street directories, or you would like to know if a particular street was ever known by another name, see our tables of current and former street names.
Events at the Stonnington History Centre
Discover Stonnington’s past with History Matters, a range of free workshops and presentations on a variety of history topics, led by Stonnington History Centre staff; along with occasional exhibitions of items in our collection and other exciting events.
Donate items to the collection
Fill in the online form if you wish to donate items of relevance to the Stonnington History Centre.