Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Fremantle Arts Centre

Fremantle Arts Centre

Work first started on the site where the Fremantle Arts Centre now stands back in 1863, with convict labour used to clear the six acres of land. In 1964 the foundation stone was laid for what was to become the Convict Establishment Fremantle Lunatic Asylum and Invalid Depot.
The Asylum operated much like a prison and was bound by the same State and National laws as local Gaols, over time it became used to house many types of people afflicted with social disorders and other problems, and housed alcoholics, prostitutes and elderly and infirm and the insane
In the time of the Gold rush era, the asylum saw patients brought in suffering heat stroke, and many Chinese labourers, seeking their fortune in the rush, were admitted for the side-effects, and long term usage problems associated with Opium use.

In 1900 the Asylum housed 219 patients, often with 20 people in a single room, it was at this time that a scandal broke out, when Mrs Clifford was violently killed by another patient. All eyes were on the Asylum, and its practices, staff and patients came under government and political scrutiny.
 The scandal saw the Government force the Asylum to take on a medical superintendent and a trained mental health nurse.

From 1909, the Asylum's role in the community changed, now housing women only, it went from Asylum status to was is colloquially known as a “poor house” and was known as “The Women’s Home”
 Only one year later after the onslaught of an epidemic in Western Australia, the Women’s Home also became the training centre for Maternity, which in 1916 would move on to the King Edward Hospital for Women.

 From 1909 until 1941 the Asylum was home to the poor, the divorced and elderly women, the home faced many problems in this era, including young women escaping, men digging holes through the limestone walls to see their ladies.
There were young women admitted suffering sever venereal diseases, these young ladies were under lock and key on the top floor of the building.

In 1941 protests about the conditions of the patients, and the condition of the buildings saw the government close the Women’s home

In 1942, during World War 2, American soldiers were given the old asylum and its grounds for lodging. Other soldiers were soon to find lodgings there too, with 22 new buildings erected to cater for the 139 enlisted men and 21 officers who now called the site home.

From 1946 the Asylum took on a new role, that of school, with the Fremantle Technical school opening inside it. At this time it also saw students from Princess May Girls School and Fremantle Boys School attend lessons on its grounds in prefabricated classrooms, but by 1958, the old building had become much emptier and had started to fall into a state of disrepair.

Sir Frederick Samson, the then Mayor of Fremantle stepped in when threats were made to demolish the Old Asylum in 1958, he envisaged a Museum and Arts centre being housed in the buildings, In 1970, some 12 years later, the museum part of the building was completed and in 1973, the Arts Centre was completed and opened and is still operating today.

So is it Haunted?
Reports of doors opening and closing by themselves are very common within the building, but these events alone do not amount to a ghostly presence, however, people also report “cold spots”, strange lights in the building and, most peculiarly, extra people noticed standing in photographs who weren't present when the photo was first taken, also, people report the feeling of physical phenomena such as being hugged or kissed by unseen people.
Another common report in the Arts Centre is that of the apparition of an old lady who walks the corridors searching for her abducted child. It is thought she is an ex-asylum patient who jumped from an upstairs window, killing herself from grief...

For more information on this possible haunted location please follow the links below:

© 2013 Allen Tiller

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