Centenary celebrations for Old Canberra House

2 July 2014

The Australian National University community came together this week to mark the centenary of one of its oldest buildings - Old Canberra House.

Built before the commencement of the First World War, the building has been called home by many illustrious lodgers and notable Canberrans.

One of its early residents was the first administrator of the Federal capital, Colonel David Miller. The British High Commission, the Commonwealth Club and the ANU Staff Centre were also housed under its roof in times past.

Speaking at the centenary celebrations, ANU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Young, said the birthday celebrations were somewhat overdue given the anniversary of its construction was in 2013.
"In all the excitement of the Canberra centenary last year - we didn't get a chance to celebrate this birthday, which actually fell in December," he said.

"But it's important to mark its 100 year anniversary because of the significant role the house has played in the history of both Canberra and ANU."

After Colonel Miller retired, the building became a meeting place and residence for Canberra's earliest planning bodies including the Federal Capital Advisory Committee and the Federal Capital Commission.

Following the departure of the Commonwealth Club, Old Canberra House became the ANU Staff Centre, "a place many ANU graduates and faculty members will fondly remember," Professor Young said.

"The Staff Centre was the first in Australia to allow student entry and was also home to the infamous ANU Poets Lunch, a tradition which continues today.

"More recently Old Canberra House has been the front door for the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy and the National Security College, premier institutions which keep ANU at the forefront of local, national and international policy and governance."

A longer feature of the history of Old Canberra House will appear in the upcoming edition of ANU Reporter.