Ladies’ Benevolent Society

(Provincial Heritage Site)

The Port Elizabeth Ladies’ Benevolent Society, formerly the Dorcas Society, was founded to “relieve cases of distress and destitution…. and especially to assist aged and infirm persons with young children”.

A letter published in the Herald on 4 November 1862 stated that the Society had been formed 16 months earlier. Their first 2 cottages for aged women were opened in February 1887 and the oldest remaining cottages, in Westbourne Road, were opened in 1899.

Sidney Hill, a merchant in partnership with William Savage, and his wife were childless and gave generously to charity. Mary Ann Hill died in England aged only 35 and her husband presented a memorial window to the Russell Road Methodist Church (see Centenary Methodist Church).

In October 1883 a cottage in memory of Mrs Sidney Hill and given to the Ladies’ Benevolent Society, was occupied. It was designed by J.T. Cook.

On 22 June 1887 four almshouses were opened in Cape Road, the “Jubilee Cottages”. G.W. Smith designed the cottages, the gift of Mr and Mrs William Savage, which were handed over to the Ladies’ Benevolent Society. Another five new almshouses, also designed by G.W. Smith, were opened on the property in Westbourne Road on 25 August 1899.

In 1902 The Governor, Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson, visited Port Elizabeth. Sir Walter laid the foundation stone of the Victoria Memorial Home, which was designed by Jones and McWilliams and opened on 30 July 1903.

A committee under Mrs A. Hirsch worked to raise the money to build the home, for destitute aged and infirm women, as a memorial to Queen Victoria.

The building shares borders with the historical Ladies’ Benevolent Society’s almshouses.

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