One hundred and seventy thousand bricks. That’s a lot – enough for about 15 houses!
But in the hands of builder Mr W Janetzki, those bricks became a different type of home – one for 120 girls. Under his watchful eye, the bricks were transformed into the two-storey girls’ hostel at Concordia Memorial College, Toowoomba in the Darling Downs region of Queensland, west of Brisbane.
‘We thought it almost a PALACE compared to the cramped quarters we’d been used to… best of all, plenty of showers and enough baths…’
With a frontage of 45 m and 1115 m² floor space, it could house two large dormitories with cubicles, four music rooms, a large living room, a visitors’ room, a spacious sick room, study rooms, and comfortable quarters for the female teachers and the matron. Best of all, it meant that none of the girls would have to ‘make use of the verandahs’ for their accommodation (The Australian Lutheran, 27 July 1955, p. 238).
This new building replaced the first girls’ hostel which was only ever intended to be a temporary facility. Plans to build something more permanent were already being discussed when the college opened in 1946, but building did not start until 1953.
It was a labour of love. Mr Janetzki ‘threw his whole soul into the work and … toiled and laboured unceasingly … ’ (District ELCA church publication The Queensland Messenger, 22 June 1955, p. 64). He was assisted by hardworking volunteers from Toowoomba and surrounding areas, some coming from as far away as Kingaroy and Minden.
The official opening and dedication were held on Sunday 22 May 1955. Seating was put out for an expected gathering of 900 people. Imagine the surprise when 1300 people turned up! Under a sunny sky, the service commenced with a procession of students led by the officiating pastors. Standing at the lectern near the hostel steps, Principal HE Temme opened the service and Dr CE Hoopmann, General President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia (ELCA), gave the address on Psalm 118:24 – ‘This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it’.
The praise and thanksgiving continued with hymns sung by the Queensland Luther League Choral Union and the Concordia Memorial Choir. Then the hostel was opened by Rev FW Noack, President ELCA Queensland District.
Queensland Deputy Premier Mr JE Duggan commended the Lutheran church for its outstanding work in the field of education. Toowoomba radio station 4GR broadcast the event.
A second service was held in the afternoon, and the collection from both services amounted to £1255, the largest collection ever raised in the ELCA to that point, demonstrating the local community’s commitment to Lutheran education.
The girls were thrilled with the new hostel which was a great improvement on their former housing. As Bev Paech, a student at the college from 1955 to 1958, says: ‘We thought it almost a palace compared to the cramped quarters we’d been used to. It was great to have a little more privacy, our own dressing table … a room for table tennis, but best of all, plenty of showers and enough baths … ’ (Never in vain – RJ Hauser (ed.), 1995). For the girls, it really was a day to rejoice and be glad!
Concordia Memorial College girls’ hostel cost £25,000 to build. It used 170,000 bricks and more than 700 bags of cement. Construction relied on many hardworking volunteers from across the Darling Downs, including the localities of Aubigny, Nobby, Greenwood, Yandilla, Toowoomba, Dalby, Minden, Ropeley, Helidon and Kingaroy.
To find out more about the ‘Seeds that Sprout’ appeal, visit their website or contact:
Acting Director and Archivist,
08 8340 4009
Lutheran Archives holds original footage of the opening and dedication of Concordia Memorial College girls’ hostel, filmed by Keith Hutchison. Lutheran Archives is currently digitising 8 mm and 16 mm films just like this one, so that they are preserved for future generations. Can you help us save other significant films of our church’s work and ministry?
This feature story comes from The Lutheran September 2016. Visit the website to find out more about The Lutheran or to subscribe.