"The site was acquired in 1861 from Mr. Leonardo d'Almada e Castro (a prominent Portugese citizen who served in the Hong Kong Governemnt) with a mininal sum of money.
Fr Antonio Riva acted as the architect of the building. The compound was to house
- the convent,
- three day schools (English, Portugese and Chinese),
- a boarding school,
- the Orphanage for children and adults and
- the Chapel.
The compound used to enjoy a commanding view of the harbour and Hong Kong Island as a whole. Its beauty and scale were so impressive that people from Canton and Macao rushed in to see it and many locals wanted to place their daughters in this school, as reported in a local newspaper the 'Daily Press' on June 1861."
The remaining historical building is the "Sacred Heart Chapel" - Grade I - built 1907, recently nicely renovated. Open to the public.
This photo is from 1981, before the other buildings were demolished.
There is a book:
"History of Our Canossian Missions- Hong Kong 1860-1910"
"A hectic month and gruelling years greeted the Canossians in Hong Kong ... " ... more with details of the early years at: http://sundayex.catholic.org.hk/canossians150/pg02.html
The Convent is large, with between 400-500 inmates. We have one good-sized chapel ; also a very pretty little one for the Children of Mary. We receive as many as 1,000 babies in the course of a year ; though, of course, the greater number die after recieving Holy Baptism. It would, I am sure, make your heart ache to see the way the poor Chinese babies are treated by their most inhuman parents, who would destroy them if there were no convent to recieve them. We have in the Chinese Orphanage 120 or more children who are taught all kinds of needlework and embroidery for the church and for the ladies in the colony. Then we have also an Orphanage for Europeans and Eurasians, with more than 100 children of all ages and tongues, from the fair-haired English to the black-skinned Indian Besides this, we have a boarding-school with about fifty boarders, and a day school with 130 scholars, and we are in all thirty -two sisters ; so that you can imagine something of our work. May I beg your Community's prayers for us and our poor orphans."
.. of the more fashionable and wealthy of the Philippine half-caste families send their daughters to the Italian convent at Hongkong.
copied from http://gwulo.com/node/5050
Italian Convent Extension. The Mother Superior of the Italian Convent wishes to gratefully acknowledge the following sums of money received in answers to letters sent out asking for help to pay off the remaining debt on the ‘Rosehill’ extension to the Italian Convent and for other necessaries for the winter season…” China Mail 3 Jan 1901: 2.