Callan Park and Broughton Hall: An Urban Haven

Compilation of a factual history of the Rozelle Hospital site and the evolution of its architecture has become urgent. The hospital had a continuous 160-year history of providing care for the community’s mentally ill, before closing its doors at the end of April, with all patients being transferred to Concord Hospital.

The site is an integral part of Leichhardt’s evolving built environment but the demolition of 117 of its current 176 buildings is proposed. Although necessary research on Callan Park’s grand stone buildings is largely complete, together with that on former estates, Garry Owen and Broughton Hall, the significance of the newer brick buildings on the site is often overlooked.

Rozelle Hospital, ca 1900

At the time, the hospital buildings of the 1950s and 1960s were regarded as innovative and long overdue. They are a visible statement about removing the social stigma previously attached to mental illness, together with the custodial (“asylum”) approach to its care and treatment. Although these newer buildings lack the charm and grandeur of the older hospital buildings, their functional design and brick construction symbolize an era of mental health reform: Callan Park’s high surrounding brick wall fell as these modern buildings rose.

“These buildings represent pivotal change in the history of public health care” architectural historian and editor of the Leichhardt Historical Journal Peter Reynolds said. Leichhardt Historical Journal, an independent journal that has published local history since 1971, is to produce a book titled Callan Park and Broughton Hall: An Urban Haven which will record all buildings on the former hospital site. “The Journal’s acquisition of original plans of these buildings will add enormous value to the book and should help the site’s long term conservation” he added.

Peter Reynolds is collaborating with architect Ken Leong on the book; Leong’s thesis Rozelle Hospital (1819-1984) its origins and development: the amalgamation of Callan Park Mental Hospital & Broughton Hall Psychiatric Clinic was completed in 1984 for the degree of Bachelor of Architecture at UNSW. For more information on the project contact: John Williams on email or visit


– Rozelle Hospital, ca 1900

– Aerial view of Callan Park and Rozelle Hospital, 2003