Many Northern Beaches locals still refer to Manly’s iconic sandstone ‘castle on the hill’ as ‘St Patrick’s Seminary’. But, as well as being a former Seminary, did you know that the campus was also a Great Gatsby location?
In the 2013 iconic movie, The Great Gatsby, self-made Millionaire Jay Gatsby was known for his expensive taste and luxurious lifestyle – especially when it came to his extravagant mega-mansion. Gatsby used his mansion as a symbol of passion, aiming to reunite with his love, Daisy Buchanan.
Gatsby had fallen in love with Daisy’s aura of luxury, grace, and charm, and lied to her about his own background in order to convince her that he was good enough for her. Daisy promised to wait for him when he left to fight in the First World War, but instead married Tom Buchanan – while Gatsby was studying at Oxford. From that moment on, Gatsby dedicated himself to winning Daisy back. His purchase of the extravagant Great Gatsby mansion and his lavish weekly parties were designed to impress and win back the great love of his life. His monument to love was strategically located in ‘West Egg’, across the lake from her place of residence.
In real life however, the Great Gatsby location overlooks Manly Beach, Australia, and is filled with students all around the world – completing their degrees with the International College of Management, Sydney (ICMS).
ICMS is a higher education institute offering undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in business and specialisations. Prior to the iconic sandstone building being home to ICMS, Moran House, as the building is more accurately called, was a Seminary. It was conceived by the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Moran, and the campus opened in January 1889 as the first Australian National Catholic Seminary, a theological college for novice priests.
The 60-acre site was granted to Catholic Church with the proviso that an educational function would always be attached to the land. The ‘splendid isolation’ of the site, yet its proximity to the city of Sydney was thought to be an ideal locale for serious study. So serious was the study that lectures were given in Latin, a practice that remained until the 1960s.
Today, serious study still takes place but it’s balanced with the fun and lively lifestyle that today’s students expect from their student experience. When ICMS took on the lease of the campus in 1996 a large restoration project was undertaken with the work receiving a UNESCO Award in 2000 for conservation. If you choose to visit the campus you can see the plaque on the wall outside the main entrance doors.
Nowadays, students will find plenty of opportunity for the fun, global student experience expected of those who chose to study in a ‘castle’ overlooking Manly’s award-winning* beach. Students come from over fifty different countries and the flags on the front of the building are carefully chosen to represent the nationalities of the current student body.
Australian filmmaker, Baz Luhrmann said the ICMS campus had such a majestic feel to it that it would be a perfect location to be the set of the Great Gatsby mansion. Filming began on campus in September to December 2011 and during this time classes were still in session. Graduates recall leaning over the balconies trying to catch a glimpse of the popular Leonardo Di Caprio between takes.
The film made approximately $353.6 Million USD in the Box Office and Baz Luhrmann spared absolutely expense in ensuring Moran House resembled his vision of the iconic Great Gatsby location. Crews added a central fountain and white pebbles to the forecourt and even removed – and then replaced – the palm trees. They added ivy across the entire front of the building and post-product added turrets to the top of the building using CGI.
This is not the first time the Great Gatsby location was visited by celebrities. In 2006, Australian icons Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban tied the knot on the ICMS campus in the Cardinal Cerretti Memorial Chapel.
These movie star visits and moments are sometimes the reason students start their studies with the college, longing to immerse themselves in the rich history the college and campus buildings have to offer.
” I loved everything the college had to offer from classes to on-campus accommodation but what really sold me was that Great Gatsby is one of my all time favourite movies. The thought of living and studying at the Great Gatsby location was an incredibly exciting opportunity,” said Bachelor of Business (Marketing) student, Michaela Mayes.
Students exploring Moran House can immerse themselves in a history evident throughout the building. The Welsh-slate steps of the main sandstone are worn in the middle, telling stories of fatigued priests dragging their heels up to bed after supper.
When residential students start to get too rowdy, beach sand sometimes trickles through cracks in the ceiling below, a legacy of using sand as insulation. The beautiful Grand Dining Room still serves meals – but today members of the public are served by Hospitality degree students practising their silver service skills.
Tours of the Great Gatsby location and ICMS campus are offered for prospective undergraduate and masters students and can be booked using the link below: