BuildingsA sawmill constructed on the banks of Dora Creek in 1895 was the first building on the Avondale Estate in Cooranbong. After some delay, Bethel Hall, the girls dormitory and a second building nearby with classrooms, boys dormitory and a kitchen, were completed sufficiently for classes to commence.
“Bethel” is Hebrew meaning “house of God.” Seventh-day Adventist Church pioneers Stephen Haskell and Ellen White opened it on April 28, 1897.
Haskell Hall, a two-storey boys dormitory (first called Herman Hall), was completed in the summer of 1897/98 and the Avondale Church building, at the entrance to the campus dedicated debt free in 1897.
College Hall, later known as The Chapel, was built over three months early in 1899. It contained several classrooms, the principal’s office, two primary school classrooms, the library and a spacious chapel.
In late 1899 the Avondale Health Retreat was built near the church to provide medical support for the community and practical experience for the first year nurses in training. The Sanitarium Health Food factory was established on the old sawmill site. After enrolment increased to 205, in 1905, Preston Hall was built, joining Bethel Hall to the second building. The business office was completed by 1910.
A manual arts building and The Laurels, a domestic science centre, were completed during 1925 thus marking the end of the period of timber buildings. The first brick structure, Music Hall, was completed that same year, costing $1000. Then came the Depression. Little changed. During war time, the science building was completed. Later the chapel was enlarged, the front became the back and the sound shell was added. Andre Hall, a new girls dormitory was completed in 1952 and the Auditorium, the large multi-purpose centre, was completed in time for graduation in 1953. Then came The White Building, an administrative, classroom and library block, which was completed in 1960. Haskell Hall was demolished and Watson Hall was completed in 1964. Then in 1985 the College church family which had been meeting on campus in the chapel or the auditorium met for the first time in its own church building.
Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church is recognised as one of the most significant examples of modern architecture in the Hunter. Preston Hall was demolished in 1991 and women’s residence Ella Boyd Hall occupied in 1990. Restored with Avondale College Foundation and New South Wales Heritage Council funding, Bethel Hall reopened on October 21, 1992. Renovations to The Chapel, now classified by the National Trust, were completed in 1997. The extension of the Library was opened in 1998. In 2002, the construction of a new and larger auditorium to replace the old one was completed. In 2006, the church was refurbished.
Ladies Chapel, built opposite the church, was renamed Ella Hughes Chapel in 2015. Ella (Evans) Hughes (1864-1962) was a school teacher who with husband Cassius Hughes, the first principal at Avondale in 1897, pioneered wholistic education. She valued higher education, earning a bachelor’s degree before many of her male colleagues. Ella headed the primary school on campus and served as the first trainer of teachers. As preceptress, she and her husband lived in the student residences.