Black and white photograph of the Samuel Wadham Wing at International House under construction
Samuel Wadham Wing at International House under construction, c. 1963. International House Archives.

The Samuel Wadham Wing: ‘A microcosm of the world’

The second purpose-built accommodation wing at International House, ‘Wadham’, opened in 1963. Planning for Wadham had begun in earnest in 1960, when International House launched an appeal to raise money for a new building. The goal was to raise £250,000 (equivalent to more than 7.5 million dollars in 2020 1) to construct accommodation for an additional 118 residents (Larkins, 2018, pp. 46-47). The target was ambitious, but there was strong support. An editorial in The Age newspaper in early 1961 called on people to be ‘generous’ with their donations noting:

Something other than a vague and generalised call to Victoria’s generosity lies behind the International House building appeal for £250,000. International House … is not an experiment in idealism – it is a practical, yet imaginative, illustration of the reality and increasing closeness of Australia’s relations with the rest of the world and particularly Asia.

(“An Appeal”, 1961)

Fundraising activities included concerts, dances, a fair on the main University of Melbourne campus, dinners, an art exhibition (‘Window on the World’) and more. Many of these were organised by the International House Women’s Auxiliaries, a large group of volunteers who raised more than £30,000 for the building fund (“Women’s Group Exceeds Target”, 1961). The building was to be designed by Mockridge, Stahle & Mitchell, an architectural firm specialising in ‘religious, university, college and school buildings’ (Callister, 2012).

Black and white photograph of the Samuel Wadham Wing at International House, The University of Melbourne, circa 1963.
Samuel Wadham Wing, c. 1963. International House Archives.
Photograph of the Plaque from the official opening of the Samuel Wadham Wing by Lord Casey on 23 March 1963.
Plaque commemorating the official opening of the Samuel Wadham Wing on 23 March 1963.
Black and white photograph of Arthur Dean, Richard Casey and Samuel Wadham outside the newly-completed Samuel Wadham Wing at International House
Arthur Dean (Chancellor of the University of Melbourne), Richard Casey and Samuel Wadham outside the newly-completed Samuel Wadham Wing at International House, 1963. International House Archives.

Construction began in April 1962 and finished in February 1963 (Larkins, 2018, p. 50). The new building, named after the second chair of the International House Council Sir Samuel Wadham, was opened on 23 March 1963. As well as bedrooms, it included a library, tutorial rooms, a gym, common rooms, a music room, staff offices and the formal entry to IH (Larkins, 2018, p. 50). Speaking at the official opening, Lord Richard Casey said:

This building forms a microcosm of the world in which young people of many countries live, work and play together… They may be termed opinion-formers and can do much to help break down misunderstanding and social barriers between Australia and her overseas neighbours.

“New Student Quarters Opened”, 1963

At the end of 1963, Student Club President D. R. Saunders reflected on the opening of Wadham:

This, the seventh year in the life of International House, has been momentous. The new Samuel Wadham Wing was opened and the number of residents in the House increased by over a third of the previous number… Visitors coming to the House are invariably impressed by the beautifully fitted and designed entrance hall to the Samuel Wadham Wing and the Ida Scheps Common Room [Junior Common Room] (Saunders, 1963, p. 39).

References and further reading

An appeal that calls for generosity (1961, February 6). The Age, 2.

Callister, W. (2012). Mockridge, Stahle & Mitchell. In: P. Goad & J. Willis (Eds.), The encyclopedia of Australian architecture. Cambridge University Press.

Larkins, F. (2018). International House Melbourne: Sixty years of fraternitas. Melbourne University Publishing.

New student quarters opened (1963, March 25). The Age, 4.

Opening of The Samuel Wadham Wing [pamphlet] (1963, March 23). International House Archives.

Saunders, D. R. (1963). President’s report. Satadal: The magazine of International House, University of Melbourne, 39–40.

Women’s group exceeds target (1961, June 20). The Age, 7.

  1. This is according to the Reserve Bank of Australia Pre-Decimal Inflation Calculator,, accessed 19 March 2021.