Two marble tablets commemorate the opening of the Dispensary in 1908, one on the lower wall outside, the other just inside on the wall near the front window.
First listed in 1896 as a private residence, 33 Glebe Point Road functioned as the Sydney United Friendly Society Dispensary from its opening in January 1909. Here patients, bringing their own bottles and jars, were given ointments and gargles and the like, plus leeches, cod liver oil, lime water, camel hair brushes, poppy heads and chamomile flowers.
A ‘friendly society’ was a voluntarily-organised group which contributed to a central fund, out of which each could take when adversity struck. Because of their central role in the provision of what we call today ‘health coverage’, these societies were pivotal in the spread of health professionals and related services – including doctors, nurses, hospitals and chemists – across Australia.