Edward Millen History

The story of the Ed Millen Precinct started in 1911 when Mrs Elizabeth Baillie purchased Canning Location 2 which then became the site of the Rotunda Maternity Hospital in 1912. 

Since then, the Precinct has played an important part in WA’s history - as a hospital for Spanish influenza patients in 1919, a sanatorium for ex-service personnel in 1942 and renamed Hill View health facility in 1982.

In 2006, the site was gifted to the Town by the WA State Government. As part of the Precinct’s Adaptive Heritage Redevelopment, the Town engaged local urban developers at element to create an Interpretation Plan that identified key themes, stories and messages of the Precinct’s rich history.

The Interpretation Plan aims to stimulate the community and visitors with visually engaging interpretive media that introduces the heritage significance of Edward Millen Home. It should encourage participatory interpretation that allows for healthy living and wellness. Overall, the landscape continues to provide a sense of place and provokes new thought about the history of the site.

Site History

The Edward Millen Precinct has been part of Victoria Park’s history since the Rotunda was built in 1911. The building and its surrounds have a rich and colourful history providing a diversity of health services for the community.

Below is a brief summary of the Ed Millen Precinct up to 2006 when the site was gifted to the Town.

  • 1912 - Rotunda Maternity Hospital was built
  • 1919 - Due to the Spanish Influenza Epidemic the State Government took over the running of the hospital
  • 1920 - Compulsory purchased for the Repatriation Department, and used as a sanatorium for ex-service personnel who had contracted tuberculosis
  • 1936 - Additions to building
  • 1942 - Property handed over to the Perth Hospital Authorities
  • 1943 - Tuberculosis patients were brought back to the Edward Millen
  • 1949 - Repatriation Commission took control and it continued as a sanatorium for TB patients
  • 1960 - Hospital was utilised for special cases of patients that did not require the nursing or medical attention of a general hospital
  • 1968 - “D” Ward was added for the use of psychiatric patients
  • 1971 - Housed the physiotherapy and occupational therapy departments
  • 1984 - Opened as a division of the Mental Health Services, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Divisions
  • 1998 - Stood unoccupied
  • 1999 - Edward Millen Rotunda Hospital, fumatory building and former ward block were entered into the heritage register as place No. 02176
  • 2006 - Building gifted to the Town of Victoria Park with conditions

Further details

The detailed history of the site can be best explained by looking at three key eras from 1911 to 2001.

Founding a Maternity Hospital

Elizabeth Baillie was a nurse and trained as a midwife at Sefton Hospital in Melbourne. She was among the first group of registered midwives in Western Australia in 1911. 

Mrs Baillie purchased Canning Location 2  for £650 in 1911. It was twice the size of the current Ed Millen Precinct, extending from Albany Highway to Devenish Street. 

Until the early 1900s women gave birth at home or in lying-in homes. Elizabeth Baillie had the means, ambition and drive to establish a private maternity hospital - The Rotunda Hospital - in 1912, four years before the state’s first public women’s hospital, King Edward Memorial Hospital. It was the only maternity hospital in the area.

A Global Pandemic

Elizabeth Baillie was forced to leave Rotunda Hospital when the State government took it over during the Spanish ‘flu pandemic. The Pandemic hit Perth in 1919, and more than 500 people in the State died.

In 1920 the Commonwealth government compulsorily acquired the site for a Repatriation Hospital and Tuberculosis Sanitorium. Mrs Baillie continued to practise as a midwife in other locations of Victoria Park until the early 1930s, first at 13 Gresham Street, Victoria Park in the mid 1920s, and from the early 1930s at 18 Rathay Street. She lived at 64 King George Street, Victoria Park with her daughter, Norah Baillie (later Attanasoff), who was also a midwife.

A history of care

Elizabeth Baillie died suddenly in 1939, at about 76 years of age.

Mrs Baillie’s contribution to midwifery and care of women and other Western Australian community members has been remembered through the naming of Baillie Avenue in 1916, and this amphitheatre in 2020.

The landscape in healthcare

When the Department of Repatriation bought the Rotunda Hospital in 1920, it had a gravel driveway and forecourt. Some of the site was cleared, and the rest was low scrub, banksias and sandy soil.

The Comptroller of the Department of Repatriation described the site as a ‘mansion in the desert’ presenting ‘a very desolate appearance, although from the point of view of position it is suitably situated.’ 

The Department sought advice from John Heath, Kings Park superintendent, as to the best trees for the site that would improve the landscaping, thereby assisting in the recovery of patients. A Head Gardener, two other gardening staff and six temporary labourers were employed to create the landscaped gardens in 1920.

In 1955, the lawn area was increased so that the eastern side of the buildings was also landscaped. 

Rotunda Hospital’s role in a pandemic

The ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic emerged at the end of the First World War, killing more than 50 million people worldwide. Despite a swift quarantine response in October 1918, cases of Spanish flu began to appear in Australia in early 1919.

In Perth, when infected returned soldiers arrived in Fremantle they were quarantined at Woodman’s Point. To cope with the treatment of patients, the Rotunda was taken over by the Perth Public Hospital on 7 June 1919, and received influenza patients until 19 September, when it was closed.

A Tuberculosis Sanatorium

On 6 May 1920, the property and building became a compulsory purchase of the Commonwealth Government. At this time, the land was approximately 31 acres, was considered to be worth £1,100 and the hospital buildings £3,700. Total estimated cost was £4.800 and Mrs Baillie was paid £5,000.

The Repatriation Department used the hospital as a sanatorium for ex-service personnel who had contracted tuberculosis (TB). The existing building was converted to accommodation for the staff after new wards were built to accommodate sixteen tubercular patients. Other new buildings included a combined disinfector, sputum destructor, incinerator and fumatory built to the rear of the Rotunda, and a building for orderly accommodation.

In 1935 the hospital was extended with two new timber wards. It was re-named the Edward Millen Home, in honour of Edward Millen, British born Australian journalist who was appointed the first Minister of Repatriation in 1917.

From 1939 to 1949, Edward Millen Home continued to operate as a sanatorium for civilians as well as returned servicemen. 

A rehabilitation unit

In 1949, the Repatriation Commission again took control of Edward Millen Home. It continued as a sanatorium for TB patients as a satellite of the Hollywood Repatriation Hospital.

In 1960, all patients were transferred to the Hollywood Repatriation Hospital, and the Edward Millen Home was converted to a 40-bed geriatric rehabilitation unit. The gardens and extensive grounds continued to be an important amenity.

Rotunda Hospital

The Rotunda hospital and its surrounding added buildings and parkland has been a centre for health care since 1912, provided health care services for:

  • Materning (1912 - 1919)
  • Spanish ‘flu pandemic (1919)
  • Tuberculosis Sanatorium (1920-1960)
  • General health care for returned and ex-servicemen (1920-1960)
  • Aged care (1961-1967)
  • Adult psychiatric care (1968-1982)
  • Physio and OT therapy
  • Child and adolescent mental health (‘Hillview’ 1982-1995)
  • Autistic children (‘Mildred Creak Centre’) (1982-2001)


In 1968, a new brick and tile building, with a car park entry made from Hill View Terrace was added to Edward Millen House. It became a ward and paramedical building known as the ‘Restoration Centre’ for psychiatric patients.

The Repatriation Department owned Edward Millen Home until 1982, when it was transferred into the WA State Health Department for Mental Health Services. The Rotunda was renamed the Hillview Terrace Clinic; also known as Hillview Terrace Hospital.

Mildred Creak Centre 

Hillview Terrace Clinic brought together 4 units of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Divisions and was for voluntary patients aged 8 to 18 years. This opened in 1984 to provide respite care for children suffering from autism.

It was named after Dr W. E. Robinson, a psychiatrist in Perth from 1957 to 1981.

He also established the Mildred Creak Centre for Autistic Children, named in honour of Mildred Creak, the groundbreaking UK doctor who established the diagnostic testing for autism in the 1960s.

Children at Hillview were able to attend Kent Street Senior High School and the East Victoria Park and Victoria Park primary schools while they were in-patients. In 1994, the average length of stay at Hillview was four months. Hillview closed in 1995 and inpatient services were transferred to Bentley Hospital. The Mildred Creak Centre continued operating up to c2001.


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