St Mary’s was built in 1911 to house up to 65 young girls and older voluntary admissions of the Preservation Class. Members of the Preservation Class included young children who were bought to the Convent by guardians who were too poor to support them. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the children of new migrants boarded here while their parents established themselves. Downstairs were classrooms and a dining area, with dormitories upstairs. During the 1970s, St Mary’s was used to accommodate girls with disabilities.
In the 1990s, La Trobe University leased the building to a group of young artists as day studios but the group began secretly living there. Security guards knew there were unauthorised ‘live-in residents’ but saw the group as providing a ‘presence’ on site, so they turned a blind eye. After much restoration work, the whole of St Mary’s (and a section of Mercator) has been the home of the Sophia Mundi Steiner School since mid-2006.