The History of Eolian Hall (Formerly the Jewish National Library and Celia Grosby Memorial Hall)

Our heritage building at 836 Lygon Street, prior to our acquisition in 1968, operated as the Jewish Memorial Hall and Kadimah Centre, and is therefore historically and socially significant in the precinct of North Carlton.

Construction started in 1932 by F.N Mann Pty. Ltd and was originally designed to be a centre of Jewish community life, hosting events such as lectures, recitals, concerts, debates, plays and other social activities. Our upstairs Meligunis Room which today houses our memorabilia and historic collection, was previously the Jewish Kadimah Library and a meeting place for reading circles and discussion for 35 years before the Società Isole Eolie purchased the property in 1968.

(Source: The Hearld Newspaper - 21 September 1932)
Kadimah Facade 1941 (Source: Harold Paynting Collection, State Library of Victoria.)
Library 1941 (Source: Harold Paynting Collection, State Library of Victoria.)
Main Hall 1941 (Source: Harold Paynting Collection, State Library of Victoria.)
Time Line

836-842 Lygon Street is purchased by the Jewish National Library

Jewish National Library

1 February 1932

Foundation stone for the Jewish National Library is laid by Mr. Moses Grosby

25 September 1932

National Jewish Library Officially Opened

25th March 1933

Last day Kadimah was open before moving to the Esquire Theatre Elsternwick

20th October 1968

Società Isole Eolie Mutuo Soccorso purchase hall.

Kadimah becomes Eolian Hall

15th November 1968

Newspaper Articles

1 Sept 1932 - New Building for the Kadimah

The Australian Jewish Herald Thursday 1st September 1932

A beginning was made with the building for the new Kadimah Hall on Wednesday. The foundation stone will be laid in about three or four weeks’ time. The hall is in Lygon Street Carlton. The event marks a further step in the development of the well-established Kadimah Society, and will be welcomed by members of the Melbourne Jewish community. A sketch of the building will appear in next issue of this paper.

21 Sept 1932 - "Kadimah": New Home for Jewish Institution

The Herald Newspaper  Wednesday 21st September 1932

Owing to increased activities in its work among the Jewish community, the institution known as the Jewish National Library— Kadimah has found it necessary to provide extra facilities for the effective carrying on of its varied functions.

For a long time, the headquarters have been located in Drummond Street, Carlton, but “Kadimah” was steadily outgrown its present housing, necessitating the extensions. The financing of the new home of the society at 836 Lygon Street, Carlton, was made possible by the generous subscriptions of members and friends, notably a gift of £1000 from Mr M. Grosby, in memory of his late wife, whose name the hall will bear.

The building consists of a large lecture hall with a spacious stage, library, cloakrooms and offices on the ground floor, and a large banquet room and utilities on the first floor, which is reached by a staircase from the main lobby. The façade will be treated in stucco of a light sandstone colour, and the site being elevated above the street, will form an imposing elevation to Lygon Street. The contractors for the building, Messrs. F. N. Mann Pty. Ltd., have begun operations to be in readiness for the ceremony of laying the foundation stone, which will be performed by Mr Grosby on Sunday (25 Sept 1932).

“Kadimah,” despite many difficulties, has carried out its objective throughout its 21 years of existence. This objective has always been the promulgation of Jewish culture, such as literature, music and drama. Every Sunday evening at the rooms takes place a function in the nature of one of these subjects. The discussion of religion or politics is, according to the constitution, barred from the platform. “Kadimah” is not a political society. The society from time to time arranges lectures on such subjects as physiology, health and economics. These lectures are usually given by experts— not necessarily Jews— and are for the purpose of keeping members in touch with the latest developments in the world of science. The new building will give the society the opportunity to extend every branch of its activities, and it hopes to be able to arrange concerts of modern Jewish music, which should be of interest, not alone to Jews, but to all lovers of good music.

23 Sept 1932 - Jewish National Library – Foundation Stone of New Home

The Age Newspaper Friday 23rd September 1932

On Sunday the foundation stone will be laid for the new home for the Jewish National Library, “Kadimah,” at 836 Lygon Street Carlton. The ceremony will be performed by Mr M. Grosby, who, by his contribution of £1000 towards the funds, helped the scheme to a success.

The Jewish National Library, “Kadimah,” in its activities for the last twenty-one years, has greatly contributed towards the promulgation of culture amongst the Jews in Melbourne, and with the erection of a new and up-to-date building, should prove an inspiration to its members and spur them onto still greater efforts in the cultural field.

24 Sept 1932 - Jewish Libary Hall

The Argus Saturday 24th September 1932

The ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the new Kadimah Hall for the Jewish national library will take place tomorrow afternoon at 3 o’clock at 840 Lygon street, North Carlton.

25 Mar 1933 - Jewish Library Open Tonight - £5000 Cultural Centre

The Herald Saturday 25th March 1933

The new Jewish National Library in Lygon Street, North Carlton, which will be officially opened tonight. The building, which has been donated by the Jewish community of Melbourne, cost £5000.

The buildings of the Jewish National Library Kadimah, In Lygon Street, North Carlton, will be opened tonight by Mr M. Zeitner, a Melbourne businessman, and one of the pioneers of the library. The building cost £5000, subscribed by members of the Jewish community, and is designed to be the cultural centre of Jews in Melbourne. A large central hall is to be known as the Grosby Memorial Hall, after Mr M. Grosby, who gave more than £1000 towards the building. A well-stocked library is decorated with portraits of noted Jewish writers.

MUSIC AND PLAYS

On the stage in the hall, Jewish plays will be presented, and a committee has been formed to import Jewish music. At tonight’s ceremony, the chairman of the Kadimah (Mr S. Wynn) will hand a golden key to Mr Zeltncr. Following Mr Zeltner’s address Dr. A. Patkin will speak in Jewish on “Culture and the Nation,” and a concert will be given by the Kadmih Musical Circle, assisted by Miss Linda Phillips. The gathering of about 1000 will obiskcd to subscribe to a resolution about the persecution of the Jews in Germany.

It is proposed to open tonight a fund for the library. A grand piano is among the donations received.

1 Apr 1933 - Dance At Jewish Library

The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. Thu 6 Apr 1933  Page 12 

The grand opening dance of the Jewish National Library, “Kadimah,” which was postponed from last Saturday because of the Jewish situation in Germany, will be held on Saturday(8th April 1933) in the new Kadimah Hall, 840 Lygon Street, North Carlton.

1 Apr 1933 Nov 1968 - Jewish Library

Weekly Times, Melbourne,  Sat 1 Apr 1933, Page 9 

The new buildings of the Jewish National Library Kadimah, in Lygon Street, North Carlton, were opened on Saturday night by Mr M. Zeltner, a Melbourne businessman and one of the pioneers of the library. The building cost £5000, is subscribed by members of the Jewish community, and is designed to be the cultural centre of Jews in Melbourne.

A large central hall is to be known as the Grosby Memorial -Hall, after Mr M. Grosby, who gave more than £1005 toward the building. A well-stocked library is decorated with portraits of noted Jewish writers, j On the stage in the hall Jewish plays will be presented, and a committee has; been formed to import Jewish music, At the ceremony the chairman of the Kadimah (Mr S. Wynn) handed a golden key to Mr Zeltner.

Following Mr. Zeltner’s address, Dr.  A. Patkin spoke in Hebrew on “Culture! and the Nation,” and a concert was given by the Kadimah Musical Circle assisted by Miss Linda Phillips.

22 Dec 1933 - Odds and Ends Round Melbourne

The Herald Newspaper  Friday 22nd December 1933

This substantial ” building with its severity of design is the Jewish National Library in Lygon Street, North Carlton. The cost of the building, £5000, was subscribed by the Jewish community, and the Library was opened on March 25 last. It is the Jewish cultural centre in Melbourne.

2 Nov 1934 - The Kadimah (Best description of the Building)

The Hebrew Standard of Australasia Friday 2nd November 1934

This article is from the pen of the late Mr Maurice Reading, whose loss the Kadimah, as well as several other Jewish organisations, have cause to mourn. It was his last effort on behalf of the institution with which he was so closely associated.

The “Kadimah” Comes of Age. When a Jew arrives in a strange city, he does not rest until he has sought out a fellow Jew. It was this communal urge, this longing for contact with Jews and Jewish culture that moved a few zealous Jews to found the “Kadimah.” This was twenty-one years ago. In a few weeks “Kadimah” fittingly celebrates its coming of age by moving into its fine new home at 836 Lygon Street, Carlton. This has been made possible by the generosity of the “Kadimah’s” loyal friends, and especially by Mr Grosby’s munificence, which “Kadimah” acknowledged by naming “Kadimah” Hall after the late Mrs Grosby — “Celia Grosby Memorial Hall.” Nor can we fail to particularly mention Mr Zeltner, one of the original “Kadimah” founders, and a man who has always been very generous to his social offspring.

The new building itself seems to show a conscious pride and dignity in its new manhood. It faces Lygon street with a bold and open countenance. There are no tortuous approaches. A few steps and we are at its doors, which open wide in simple and homely welcome. The entrance hall is forty-five feet long(13.7m), a capacious artery leading to the main hall, which is the heart of the building. Ascending a few steps to the right, we find ourselves in a large room, cheerful in appearance, in pleasing proportion and tastefully decorated. This is the supper-room. The kitchen has naturally been built adjoining. It is commodious and practical, having two large servery windows through which refreshments will be passed directly into the supper-room. A delightful feature of the supper-room is the open hearth. Back into the entrance hall again, we find to the right two ample cloakrooms for ladies and gentlemen. On the opposite side of the entrance hall is the reading room and library, which is some thirty feet (9.1m)  in length. While large enough for “Kadimah” needs, it still retains the essential snugness of a reading room. And now we pass through the doors and into the main hall. There is a distinctive and subtle charm about it. It is restful and harmonious. It is nicely proportioned, and the warm tones of the panelled texture breathe homeliness and welcome. The main source of artificial light comes from nine large hanging ceiling lamps, the main centre light being three feet in diameter. Supplementing these, and charmingly decorative, are a number of wall lights. All are carried out in the modern trend, figured tinted glass being used. The floor has been suitably polished for dancing, making the “Kadimah” Hall an ideal place for weddings and other functions. Comfortable seating accommodation is being arranged, and the main hall will hold about five hundred people.

A word now about the stage, for those who planned the new building are justly proud of it. Two dressing rooms-with separate approaches flank the stage on either side, the stage covering an area of forty-four feet (13.4m) by thirty-three (10m) feet. The stage is framed by a colourful and attractive wide border in the modern style, and Mr Schetzer, who is responsible for the whole of the decorating in the new building, is to be heartily congratulated upon his results. The technical stage lighting has been approved by a noted Australian actor and is all that can be desired. There are ample footlights with mirror reflection, overhead stage channel lighting and side spotlighting, giving every needed effect. A prompter’s pit has been built in the front centre of the stage, this method of prompting being far superior to prompting from the wings. Plans are being developed for the production of Jewish and also Little Theatre plays during the coming winter, and“Kadimah” hopes to do good work in this direction. Similarly, “Kadimah” has formed a Jewish orchestra of noted local talent, and many musical treats are therefore assured in future programmes. Ever progressive, “Kadimah” continually strives to give it’s public the best of worthy entertainment.

And so, although “Kadimah” is changing its home, it is not changing its policy. The spirit of the Old “Kadimah” enters the New. The promotion of Jewish culture will be, as it always has been, the “Kadimah” soul. This will be our Jabneh with wide scope and broad outlook, a meeting place for kindred spirits who love our Jewish Literature, our Jewish Art, our Jewish Music, because in them they find a deeply personal appeal, a sweet mother-voice, ever sympathetic and understanding. Whilst Jewish culture is foremost in its programme, non-Jewish subjects have an important place also. Able lectures on Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Economics, etc., have been delivered on different occasions by capable Jewish and non-Jewish lecturers, and this policy of keeping in contact with whatever is interesting and worthy will be continued.

8 Nov 1968 - Kadimah's Role: Then, Now and Future

The Australian Jewish News Friday 8th November 1968 

The Kadimah has an important role to play today. There are now 1500 members, and the Lygon Street buildings were not large enough, or comfortable enough for them. Though the community is bigger and more affluent, its cultural heritage must be preserved. The new building (Leo Fink Hall, in Selwyn Street, Elsternwick) will offer young people a chance, to participate in traditional activities, even though they may speak only English.

EXPLORE

1970 Societa Mutuo Soccorso Isole Eolie Committee Meeting
0.In Memoriam
BobDimattina & Antonio Bongiorno Acland St St Kilda c.1920s
Aeolian Fruiterers
Aeolian Genealogy Seminar
Aeolian Genealogy Seminar
Cudduri Di Pasqua
Aeolian Recipes
Societa Mutuo Soccorso Isole Eolie - First Picnic at Sunbury
Annual Keast Park Picnic
Aeolian Genealogy Seminar
Discovering My Aeolian History: Video Series
Festa di San Bartolomeo
From Volcanoes, We Sailed
From Volcanoes We Sailed
History of Eolian Hall
Honour Board
Miss and Mr Isole Eolie 2017
Miss and Mr Isole Eolie Pageant
Notable Aeolian-Australians
SIE Historical Photo Archive
SIE Museum
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