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The History of the ICMS Building

The History of the ICMS Building

June 8, 2017

Towering turrets and lofty spires are the hallmarks of the imposing building now home to the International College of Management, Sydney (ICMS).

Fondly known as “the castle on the hill”, the ICMS building is a Manly landmark dating back to the 19th Century. The imposing structure dominating the northern Sydney’s beachside suburb’s landscape won world-wide acclaim when it was built by the Catholic Church between 1885 and 1889.

As ICMS faculty, staff and students take the college into the 21st Century, the building itself, originally known as St Patrick’s College, is a site of exceptional historical and cultural significance.

Established as the first National Catholic Seminary in Australia in 1889, Moran House and the Archbishop’s Residence (located on the Southern part of the precinct) was designed as a blend of Neo-Gothic and Romanesque styles.

Award-winning architecture

The stone building is four storeys high with a six-level central belltower and a slate roof. A two-storeyed colonnade flanks the central entrance.

Land on North Head Reserve was granted to the Catholic Church by the Australian government to build a seminary in 1859, but it was only in 1885, under the direction of Sydney’s third Archbishop, Cardinal Patrick Moran, that work began. Well known 19th century architects, Joseph Sheerin and John Hennessey, designed the seminary in a blend of neo-Gothic and Romanesque styles. The designs of the architects were outstanding and the pair were awarded a medal for the architecture at the London’s Colonial and Indian Exhibition of 1886.

Memorial chapel and st therese’s convent

Over twenty years after Cardinal Moran’s death in 1911, the Cardinal Cerretti Memorial Chapel and St Therese’s Convent was built. These extensions, built forty years after the Seminary in 1934-5, complements the seminary in Gothic style, materials and details.

St Therese’s Convent, originally built to provide accommodation for the Order of Our Lady Help of Christians, is currently used as the head office of ICMS. It was designed by Ernest A Scott of Green & Scott Architects.

Kelly house

The next building on the site in 1954 was a response to cope with increasing student numbers. Kelly House was opened in the year in which St Patrick’s College graduates reached a total of 1000 since its foundation. It was named after Archbishop Michael Kelly, Archbishop of Sydney from 1911 to 1940. Michael Kelly succeeded Moran in 1911, still favouring the idea of a College as a national seminary but, for various reasons, including resource allocation and war, the idea came to an end.

In the preceding year the recreation centre – later to become the Cardinal Freeman Pastoral Care Centre – was added at Manly and St Columba’s was established in 1909 at Springwood to train missionaries. The parish of St Mary Immaculate and St Athanasius, which was originally included with the seminary, was made independent in 1918 and the present church was established in Whistler Street, Manly, on the site where a church was first built fifty years before.

To mark the Eucharistic Congress in 1928 the Blessed Sacrament was taken in procession from Manly to the city on board a ferry. The procession attracted visitors from overseas as well as locals.

From st patrick’s seminary to icms

Student numbers outstripped accommodation but by the 1960s considerations, including decreasing student numbers and increased maintenance costs, eventually led to the seminary relocating in 1995 to inner suburban Homebush as the Seminary of the Good Shepherd.

The seminary is now home to ICMS, centre for excellence of a different kind, although its history is marked in many ways. The names of the original architects, Sheerin and Hennessy, are inscribed on the windows on either side of the front entrance.

The ICMS Campus is now just 17 minutes by fast ferry from the city of Sydney, with an additional venue located in the heart of the city. Students from around the world are attracted to our Manly campus, creating a diverse mixture of students and a global context to the classroom experience.

From its origins in 1996 as a specialised college of education, today, ICMS has more than 1,300 students from around the world gaining qualifications in a diverse range of fields. At ICMS the mission is to provide students with an exceptional education and the much valued skills set to gain a competitive edge and exceed


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