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These houses are named after Dr Agnes Bennett. She joined the Women’s Council in 1907, and was a champion of women’s rights to higher education. During the First World War she was commanding officer of the Seventh Medical Unit of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service, spending four years in medical service in Cairo and Serbia. Although not fulfilled in her lifetime, her ambition was for the hostel to be a hall of residence reflecting the intellectual life of the university.
Agnes Bennett in military uniform, in about 1916. She served 23 years on the Women’s Council, many as treasurer or secretary; she was President of the Council in 1924.
The building initially built by the Women Students’ Hostel Society survives – albeit in substantially modified form – as Gibb House. It is named after Jean Gibb, a co-founder of the Society.
Jean Gibb, whose “gentle tactfulness” was said to ease the Council’s deliberations during the Society’s early years.
This building is named after Isabel Pope. Her grand-daughter was a resident at Victoria House at the time the building was completed.
Isabel Pope – president of the Women’s Council 1952-1955.
The five-storeyed Wallis Wing is named after Margaret Wallis, a co-founder of Victoria House. She envisaged that “there shall be very few rules to be observed by the Students in it, but what we do hope is that those who make use if it will always be loyal to its principles, and will create a sort of orderly, cultured atmosphere which will be worth any amount of hard and fast rules”.
Margaret Wallis – co-founder of Victoria House; president of the Women’s Council 1906-1911.
The most recent addition to Victoria House – a completely refurbished bungalow in Maurice Terrace (behind Wallis Wing) – is named after Peg Hutchison, a stalwart supporter of Victoria House from the 1970s and a benefactor. She received a Distinguished Service Award from Victoria University in 1994.
Peg Hutchison – Chair of the Executive Committee 1974-1981, and benefactor, 2008
Flora Smith Dining Room
A graduate of Victoria University in 1940, Dr Flora Smith studied medicine at the University of Auckland and subsequently practised in Auckland. Her bequest “towards the cost of completing or providing amenities for women university students” provided development funds for Victoria House and Helen Lowry Hall. An initial suggestion to use the bequest to purchase Ambassador Flats at 7 Maurice Terrace was abandoned in favour of applying the funds to capital works underway at the time.
Flora Smith – benefactor, 1969