Fundraiser, St Joseph’s Open Houses

March 11, 2014
Fundraiser, St Joseph’s Open Houses

Don’t miss out – purchase your tickets to Open Houses 2014 HERE!

Go on – admit it.

We all just love a little sticky beak into the lives of others – where they live, how they decorate their space, what’s quintessentially ‘them’ about their home.

So it’s no surprise that an idea to open homes to the public, and in doing so raise funds for a terrific Melbourne suburban primary school, was a brilliant move.

So clever, in fact, that it celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. That’s a lot of wonderful, indulgent sticky-beaking!

We caught up with Sue Smethurst, who is currently holding the baton as event organiser, to step us through Open Houses.

Open Houses Logo

What is St Joseph’s Open Houses?

It’s the major annual fundraiser for St Joseph’s Primary School in Hawthorn, Melbourne.

Basically we have five beautiful privately owned homes open to the general public for one day only.

How did this all come to be?

In 1979 one very clever mother from the school was holidaying in Scotland and experienced a similar opening.

She was inspired and had a good feeling it would work for her children’s school, so she came back home and made it happen.

Back then the fundraiser profiled one home only each year, but we’ve very quickly grown and now showcase five all on the one day.

How popular is St Joseph’s Open Houses?

Well we’ve welcomed something like 20,000 people through our open doors since inception!

We not only have Melburnians come for a delightful day, but also busloads from regional Victoria and interstate.

Tickets sell out very quickly and the event grows every year - which is just incredible.

How does the day work?

Guests can either pre-purchase tickets online or at school on the day, they come to school and collect their guide book which has all of the addresses and maps of the homes, then they can either drive themselves around the circuit or hop on one of our complimentary shuttle busses which go between the homes and school.

A very lavish afternoon tea is on offer at school so when they’ve finished visiting all five – or if they want a break in between - the can pop back in to school and enjoy afternoon tea a mingle with other guests or friends and talk about everything they’ve absorbed during the day.

Are guests allowed to take photos of the homes?

Because these are private homes photos are not permitted on the day.

However, we have a terrific guide book that goes into great detail about the homes and products used.

Our guide books have become collectors’ items over the years!

How are the homes selected?

You will see from the suite of homes on offer this year that we work to create a really good mix of periods and style, in the hope that there is something for everyone.

From ultra-modern to period restorations, the idea is that these homes will enchant and inspire every guest.

They’re also a superb way to see how other people have been creative or individual in their own space, which in turn might prompt ideas for our guests to go away and emulate, or at least start with an Open Houses idea and then give it their own twist.

This year we have one of Hawthorn’s grandest old homes on show – one of the original homes of the area along with a cutting edge new build, a very stylish luxury home and some gorgeous, and very inspiring renovations.

What do you think is so special about this fundraiser?

It has become such an important part of our community.

The day itself sees some 300 parent volunteers make and serve the most delicious afternoon tea, and there are countless additional volunteering hours that go into making the day as a whole happen.

This has become part of our community’s culture – not just for the school but for the wider Hawthorn area.

What is also special is how much this day impacts our school for the rest of the year.

Through the funds raised we can support the music, art and sports programmes at our small school.

When else would people have an opportunity to gain access into these homes, if they’re not a member of the family or a friend?

Our home owners are incredibly generous to open their doors and share a very important part of their life with guests.

This is quite different to seeing a home in a magazine, on a website or in a display suite – this is a chance to enter and absorb the energy, really see the love and detail that has gone into so much, and speak directly to the people behind its creation.

St Joseph’s Open Houses

Sunday 16th March 2014

12pm – 4.30pm

  • $35 per ticket pre-paid online, or $40 on the day (if tickets are still available). Single home entries - $20.

  • Ticket price includes shuttle bus transport, afternoon tea and a gorgeous gift bag worth over $60 to take home.

  • Tickets to St Joseph’s Open Houses sell fast.

  • Last entry to houses 4:10pm

Don’t miss out – purchase your tickets to Open Houses 2014 HERE