Novar History

E.W. Stephens – Private Residence
John Heinz – Private Residence
Red Cross - Novar Hospital
St John of God - Hospital
S&G McIntosh – Private Residence
Unnamed - Private Residence
BallaratOSM - Healthcare Clinic

Edward W Stephens was born in Dublin in 1829 and migrated to Ballarat 1853.

Early municipal and newspaper records indicate that in September 1885 tenders were invited for the laying of the bluestone and concrete foundations for an extensive brick residence in Webster street. Several weeks later local contractor Mr William Barrow had been awarded the contract. The construction was being carried out on behalf of prominent citizen Edward William Stephens.

E.W Stephens occupied the residence during World War 1. He was the senior partner in the firm of Stephens and Ruffle, mine managers and originally lived in Raglan Street.

He was described as the manager of several successful companies and was also a large stockholder of them.
He amassed a lot of wealth on several occasions and sank two fortunes in Ballarat mines.

In 1887 the building was described as a 14-room house and was subject to the highest municipal rates in the street but Stephens was still reported as living in Raglan Street.

Dozens of hotels were closed by local option just prior to the Bank Crash of 1893. Much of the wealth of individuals and organisations was suddenly lost.

When Edward Stephens died on 28.4.1893 the obituary stated that the funeral procession left from yet another address – this time his home being 15 Lyons street. At the time of his death Mr Stephens was the president of the Mechanics Institute. It is reported that he left a wealthy widow, Amelia Maria Bullock but no children.

John grew up in Neider Weisel – Germany.
Sailed on 22/8/1862 from Liverpool to Melbourne and then joined his family in Smythesdale and started a Butchers business – Heinz and brothers. Their business continued to grow and by 1877 John Heinz was the sole proprietor of a business that included several butcher shops, 2 farms and the Ballarat Refrigerated and Ice Works.

In 1877 he married another German immigrant Sophie and they settled in Webster Street and had 8 children. He bought the property in 1893 and named his home Neider-Weisel after his hometown. In The Ballarat courier’s famous ‘in retrospect, 75 years ago’ column reprinted the following report – ‘at a land sale, Mr John Heinz received an area in Webster street with a frontage of 180 feet for 4 pounds 2/6 per foot.’ this suggests that the year was 1895 when he purchased the land, not one of the biggest mansions in Ballarat.

In 1901 the building was extended, a second floor was added and fourteen rooms grew to thirty.

In 1903, several years before the death of John Heinz, Mrs Sophie Heinz was listed as the property holder.

John played an important part in the life of the Ballarat community. He was a member of the Turf Club, President of the Rowing Club, a trustee for the fire brigade, President of the Deutscher Verein. He was closely associated with investment and mining companies and with friends spent 3,000 pounds converting the Academy of Music into Her Majesty’s Theatre. He also served a term as Mayor of the city of Ballarat 1899 – 1900, which was a remarkable achievement considering his early life was spent in a small village in Germany.
He died in 1905.

After the First World War the Repatriation Committee came to the central Red Cross and asked whether they could establish convalescent homes for soldiers and sailors. The Red Cross agreed and the property Nieder Weisel was purchased by the Central Committee and Ballarat Branch form the executors of the late Cr. Heinz’s estate for 3,500 pounds and was the first convalescent home to be opened.

In 1906 the street was renumbered and the house changed from 83 to 109 Webster Street.

The home was completely furnished by the Ballarat branch of the Red Cross and officially opened on September 15 1919 by her Excellency Lady Helen Munro.The attractions of the home were a billiards room at an added cost of 367 pounds, croquet lawns and a pleasant garden. A matron, Sister Bell, and four V.A.D. attended to thirty soldiers.

The Argus newspaper in Melbourne of 14/10/1921 reported that solider patients in all convalescent homes have been provided luxuries, such as fresh fruit, cakes, sauces, toilet soap, and many other extras, which make for their comfort and aid their recovery.

Red Cross Convalescent Home c1918. Situated in Webster St, Ballarat [Red Cross Victoria Division Annual Report 1918]

In March 1922 the Repatriation Department said it would concentrate all solider patients at Bendigo and recommended that Ballarat close its facility. The Ballarat branch obtained permission from the Victorian Red Cross Council to convert the convalescent home into a private hospital, the first private hospital in Australia conducted under the auspices of the Red Cross. The Australian Red Cross society said that net profits accruing from the hospital were to be paid into a special fund to be applied to any peace activities.

In May 1922 Edward H. Price, president of the Ballarat branch of the red cross announced that the hospital would be known as Novar, in honour of the countess who telegraphed her consent from Scotland.

Lady Munro Ferguson was the wife of then Governor General, and was also the Countess of Novar and founder of the Red Cross movement.

Novar had a bed capacity of 20 to 30 patients, operating theatre and consulting rooms. Mr E.H Price donated the operating table, Mrs Lucas the instrument table and Mrs Geo. Richards the basins and sinks.

‘Novar’ and its operating theatre was announced as being opened on 7/9/1922 in The Star newspaper, by Sir James Barrett, with Miss. E McDonald as matron. The aim was the give the hospital the sympathetic atmosphere of a home rather than that of an institution.
In its first year 201 operations were performed and it handled 300 patients. Returned serviceman suffering war disabilities were treated free of charge.

On 15th of September 1922 the first baby was born at the hospital and was actually christened Novar Mossman.

In 1935 Novar Hospital was registered to acquire the private hospital.

The courier reported that the Melbourne Red Cross had held a pistol at the Ballarat Branch, telling them that the place had to be sold and the money sent to Melbourne. The decision of the Melbourne Red Cross may have been prompted by the fact there were comparatively few patients at Novar. The company paid 3,500 pounds to Melbourne Red cross for the institution and they were reassured that the returned men would be cared for as before, and the policy of the institution would remain the same.

By 1952, Novar was proposing to close its doors on account of administrative burdens. It was sold to the Victorian Government for an undisclosed amount, understood to be in excess of 20,000 pounds.

In October 1954, the Ballarat Mental facility in Dana Street was moved to 109 Webster Street, which became Novar Receiving House, an outpatient clinic for the treatment of mild cases of mental illness.
Receiving Houses were used to provide accommodation for those patients who required only short-term diagnosis and treatment. No person was to be detained in a receiving house for more than two months in any event.Ballarat Psychiatric Hospital was operating at ‘Novar’ until it was sold in 1956.

In 1962, when all Receiving Houses were reclassified as Psychiatric Hospitals, Novar Receiving House became Ballarat Psychiatric Hospital.

After the closure of the Novar Clinic, the Ballarat Psychiatric Hospital was in great need of another day and outpatient facility.

By 1956, Norwood Outpatient Clinic, at 107 Webster street had been established, which eventually comprised the Norwood Adult Clinic and the Norwood Children’s Clinic, 1959

Novar offered outpatient services, day centre services, and assessment of people for independent or supervised living in the early treatment in-patient facility.

Norwood was also an out-patient facility and, significantly, a child guidance centre.

Many more patients were seen at the adult clinic than at the children’s clinic. According to the Mental Health Authority Annual Report 1964–65, the ratio was approximately seven adults for every child. Despite this, it reported that

‘The Children’s Clinic at Norwood has continued to be busy and the social worker is now taking part in the therapeutic team work and has formed a club for teenage boys. The Norwood Clinic functions every afternoon.’

By the late 1980s, Novar had ceased operating.

St John of God had a significant increase in demand for its services both inpatient and outpatient in 1976. Expansion or the use of an alternative building was needed.Over the years, the sisters of St John of god, with admirable foresight, have purchased adjacent properties as they became available to allow future development of the hospital. The one property, however, most suitable had regrettably not been available, currently occupied by the Mental Health Authority (109 Webster street).Administrator Leo Dwyer wrote to Vasey Houghton the Minister of Health (1976-1979) to say:
‘We are acutely interested to know whether or not this property could be acquired by the Sisters of St John of God Hospital for our development of the hospital as the most effient and economic use of resources available’Having earmarked the use of the hospital at Novar in Webster Street, run by the Mental Health Authority, as critical for its future expansion, the hospital approached the Health Commission about buying it.
The Commission’s architect looked at the matter carefully, and conducted that:
‘In view of the very significant role of St John of God Hospital in providing hospital services at Ballarat the purchase of the building should be carefully considered.’Robert Knowles, MLC for Ballarat province, wrote to the minister of health in support of the hospital’s proposed acquisition of Novar, but it did not go ahead until the 1990’s.A modern master planning process for future building developments at Ballarat was introduced in 1993. Committees considered the future and in particular, building needs.There had long been an increasing demand for medical suites within the hospital grounds, and Novar would be converted for this use.
Sold to private owners Samantha and Greg McIntosh and the hospital was renovated to become a family residence.
Was put on the market to go to auction
House sold to another private owner.
House put on the market again and was purchased by Ballarat OSM.

Introducing Novar


The hospital was run by the Ballarat Branch of the Red Cross and in fact was named after her Excellency Lady Helen Munro, who was the Countess of Novar and the founder of the Red Cross movement in 1914.

Building History

The Novar building is one of Ballarat’s Historic treasures, and is returning back to its previous role as the venue for the provision of leading healthcare for Ballarat and surrounding district.

Novar has operated as a private hospital in Ballarat for many years, including the provision of a surgical theatre equipped with the best possible equipment available at the time.

Novar Today

Novar is the home of BallaratOSM, the largest group of Orthopaedic Surgeons in regional Victoria, partnered with a highly experienced and qualified Sports medicine team of physicians.

The vision is to help patients achieve their goals, whether that is an operative or non-operative pathway, or to support them to achieve their goal of being the healthiest and fittest they possible can.

Everything in One Place

The team at Novar could include but not limited to:

  • Sports and Exercise Physicians
  • Physiotherapists
  • Rehabilitation Physician
  • Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • Sports Psychologists
  • Specialist Nurses

Novar Clinic Leading the Way

At Novar we strive to enable patients achieve their respective goals, BallaratOSM will be joined by additional health providers at Novar.

The team will work together to offer not only direct health care but also, lifestyle scripts, support groups, access to training and education pre and post-surgical care, arthritis clinics, fracture clinics and emergency injury clinics, all offered under the one roof and provided by leading specialists in their area of health care.


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