a black and white image of Mount Martha House

(photo supplied by and used with the permission of the Mount Martha House Historical Collection)

The Mount Martha House Historical Collection aims to collect, preserve and protect the people, history and heritage of Mount Martha House and community and make it available to everyone.

A brief history of Mount Martha House

Mount Martha House has a long and fascinating history.

The building has been heritage listed and is considered architecturally and historically significant to the State of Victoria. The architectural style is known as Federation or Queen Ann which is characterised by Tudor-style woodwork and elaborate fretwork and verandas sometimes including circular windows, turrets and towers with conical or pyramid-shaped roofs.

The house was built on Mount Martha Estate subdivision in 1889-90 and was known as Mt Martha Coffee Palace. It was designed by well-known Melbourne architects Tappin, Gilbert and Dennehy. The building operated as a guest house which was a holiday and golfing destination for many wealthy Melbourne families. By 1930 it was connected to electricity and the telephone.

It offered such amenities as:

  • 5 modern baths and showers with hot and cold running water
  • Free laundering service Electronic ironing room
  • Lock-up garages Electric refrigeration
  • Private sitting rooms Library smoking room
  • Sun lounge Ballroom
  • Doctor

Over the years the building has had many uses, including;

  • The Mount Martha Coffee Palace
  • Mount Martha House Hotel
  • A Semi-private Country Club
  • WW2 Australia’s first RAAF Officers Training School
  • 1952-1974 30 WRAAC Barrack was home to 80 army women
  • 1979 Mount Martha House Community Centre as it is known, was purchased by the Shire of Mornington for community use for education purposes.
  • It has never been an American R & R building, nor was it home to US Marines.

Today the Mornington Peninsula Shire still owns and manages Mount Martha House and it has become identified as a strong focal point for a wide range of community groups.

What Mount Martha House Historical Collection Does

  • Collect, catalogue and digitise items relevant to our history
  • Undertake research and oral histories into the stories of the house’s past
  • Make this knowledge available to the public through tours, publications and displays.
  • Historical Tours conducted monthly
  • Podcast history available within the house and online
  • Visit our history room and the WRAAC room (by appointment only)

History visits and tours

Historical Collection tours are currently suspended while the collection storage and display undergo maintenance and upgrades, we anticipate tours to re-commence in July 2024.

Mount Martha House History Trail

History Room and WRAAC bedroom displays open by appointment only.

Listen to and read through the history of Mount Martha House online or in person at QR listening stations throughout the house.

Volunteer with Mount Martha History Collection

If you would like to help as a volunteer please contact us by email Julia.Young@mornpen.vic.gov.au.

There are opportunities for you to become involved in:

  • Developing and presenting displays Research
  • Cataloguing historic memorabilia and archives Writing and publishing
  • Exchanging ideas and developing new public initiatives.

Visit us at 466 Esplanade, Mount Martha. Historic entry by appointment only.

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