The new Church of Scientology of Melbourne stands on a mid-19th-century estate, known as Ailsa. The name derives from a Scottish island not far from where original owner Robert McCracken hailed. The head of one of Melbourne’s first families, McCracken founded the now legendary Essendon Football Club and, in 1873, the team played its first match on this very estate. Thus, Ailsa entered the annals of Australian sporting folklore.

In 1909, the property became home to Mercy Teachers’ College, founded by the Catholic Sisters of Mercy. In the decades following the Second World War, the college expanded until it comprised five interconnected buildings.

The Church of Scientology acquired the estate from Australia Catholic University. After careful historical restoration and renovation, the building was inaugurated in January 2011.

Ailsa remains historically significant, and especially so given its rededication as a religious centre.