Designed by William Tappin and built in 1908, Rosina was part of the Sacred Heart complex and housed older women, separating them from the younger girls living on site. The ground floor had an admissions room and visiting parlour, a servery, a refectory and a theatre used for choirs, plays, recitals and lace-making. The arts were an important life in the Convent. In the basement of the building there are low wooden beams which have the names of Gilbert and Sullivan shows written on them. The girls often used to perform such shows and the beams were where the costumes were stored.
In 2004 when the Abbotsford Convent Foundation took ownership of the site, Rosina had been unoccupied for more than eight years. Holes in the roof had caused extensive damage to the building and ivy covered the exterior walls, in fact, there was ivy growing inside the windows!
During 2009, the restoration of Rosina was completed thanks to a number of very generous donations. The Ian Potter Foundation funded the installation of the lift. (Did you know that new elevators come flat packed and need to be assembled like an IKEA bookcase!)
The John T. Charitable Trust paid for the installation of the expensive but essential fire sprinklers. The restoration of Rosina also provided Dorm 1 as a large, light filled room for performing arts research and development. Originally it provided accommodation for the girls and where there were once bathrooms is referenced by the pink section at the rear of the room. Arts organisations and individuals come here to practice and rehearse before presenting their work elsewhere.
Rosina’s refectory has also been restored and is equipped with a commercial kitchen – ready to cook up a storm for weddings, parties and other events. Bursaria Fine Foods is situated inside Rosina and is currently the exclusive caterer for the Heritage Gardens, Rosina Function Space and Rosina Courtyard. The Rosina Function Space is a unique venue offering elegance and atmosphere, with original leadlight windows, polished floorboards, atmospheric high ceilings and exposed trusses. The Jarrah floorboards were wonderfully preserved thanks to the orange shag pile carpet that La Trobe University covered the floor with during its time at the Convent.
The restoration of Rosina was made possible thanks to generous donations from: Department of Transport and Regional Services, Australian Government, The Dara Foundation, John T. Reid Charitable Trusts, The Ian Potter Foundation, The Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, The Robert Salzer Foundation, The Dyson Bequest, Victor and Fleur Spitzer OAM, Geoffrey Rush AC, Peter McPhee AM and Simmonds Lumber Pty Ltd.