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Annie Doolan's Cottage

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by Kat May (subscribe)
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Published June 30th 2016
A tiny historic cottage in the middle of suburbia
Annie Doolan's Cottage, Marion, Adelaide
Annie Doolan's Cottage in Marion. Image by Out and About.


In 1859 St Ann's Catholic Church in Marion was opened to as a place of worship for the many local farming families and other industries that were springing up in this new area. A small cottage at the rear of the church was made into a home some years later for a couple of nuns who worked here.

The nuns were part of the religious order The Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, which Mary MacKillop and Father Julian Tenison Woods began in Penola in the State's south east. Their dream and vision was for a free education system for the disadvantaged children of early Australia. Schools soon spread to all developing regions and Marion was one of them. The nuns ran a school room in the back of church and lived in the small cottage.

St Ann's Church near Annie Doolan's Cottage, Marion, Adelaide
St Ann's Church near Annie Doolan's Cottage, Marion, Adelaide


The small church is still in use today, and as the area grew schools were purposely built and the lessons moved out of the church. The little house has seen many changes over the years. When the nuns left, the small cottage was given to a local woman and her two children, and the daughter was Annie Doolan. She was a caretaker for the church for many years. She lived most of her life here. She was the last permanent resident to live in the cottage. The cottage is now part of the Marion Historical Society and is included on the Marion Village Heritage Walk.

Annie Doolan's Cottage, Marion, Adelaide
Annie Doolan's Cottage in Marion. Image by Out and About.


Annie Doolan's Cottage, Marion, Adelaide
Annie Doolan's Cottage in Marion. Image by Out and About.


This very sweet little stone cottage of only four rooms has an old fashioned kitchen with a large wood fire place. Large pots would have been hung on brackets over this fire and it would have been continually burning for cooking and heating hot water. A small backyard is still there where the washing would have hung on a clothes line of wire supported by tree logs.

The building is noteworthy as it was built of roughly shaped local stone, not cut by a mason, made with clay and mud, with red brick quoins around the windows. It was built in 1876. There is a story about the church bell. A bell was ordered for the church but the wrong one was delivered and was far too big so they hung it in a gum tree. The bell had been blessed so it had to stay and it is still here some 150 years later and is still in use.

Annie Doolan's Cottage, Marion, Adelaide
The old school bell can still be seen hanging by the old river red gum tree. Annie Doolan's Cottage in Marion. Image by Out and About.


Annie Doolan's Cottage, Marion, Adelaide
Annie Doolan's Cottage in Marion. Image by Out and About.


Inside the cottage today is a display of how the nuns would have looked when teaching the children back in the early days. The rear two rooms were added around 1900 when Annie Doolan's family moved there. In the kitchen it looks like the 1940s when Annie Doolan lived there. In the front sitting room there is a large model of the Marion district in the 1980s.

It is remarkable to visit such tiny old homes and see how people made do with such a small space and little resources. The land at the rear of the chapel which is also the front of the cottage was the playground for the school children. Later it was a large garden full of vegetables and flowers tended by Annie Doolan during the depression years.

Annie Doolan's Cottage, Marion, Adelaide
The school playground area. Annie Doolan's Cottage at Marion. Image by Out and About.


You can visit the cottage on the fourth Sunday of the month between 2 and 4pm. On other days you can still walk up to the cottage and have a look at it and try to find the school bell.
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Why? A reminder of where we came from.
When: Open 4th Sunday 2-4pm
Where: Behind the chapel in Finniss Street Marion
Cost: Free/ donations welcome
Your Comment
Thanks for sharing this lovely story.
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11210) 1119 days ago
What a nice little piece of history. Thanks for the write up.
by Jenny Rossiter (score: 3|4067) 1120 days ago
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