One of the hidden architectural gems of Canberra is to get a new life in the latest twist to its amazing history.
The old hospital on the junction of Arthur Circle and Empire Circuit was built in 1935. It is listed on the ACT's "Register of Significant Twentieth Century Architecture" but now stands empty and derelict with broken windows and grass in the guttering.
In its time, it's been a purpose-built private maternity hospital created by a disgruntled nurse who left Canberra Hospital in a row over knives and forks for the staff.
Then it was a kind of hostel for long-distance bus travellers.
Maybe a pile of rubble or a residence for an ambassador.
The building was designed by Kenneth Oliphant, Canberra's first private architect. Its construction came after an unsisterly row between a nurse at the Canberra Hospital and the matron.
Canberra was a designed city and we would hate to lose the feeling of it - that historical sense.Leanne Johnson
The building was originally known as the Allawah maternity hospital. The ACT's "Register of Significant Twentieth Century Architecture" says it was commissioned for a "Sister Winifred Petrie" who, by all accounts, was a strong-willed character.
She worked at Canberra Hospital at the obstetrics ward before falling out with the Matron who, Sister Petrie informed a Federal Capital Commission board of inquiry, should have made better arrangements for the comfort of nurses - like providing crockery and cutlery.
In 1930, she resigned.
After a bit of travel, she returned to Canberra and set up the hospital in Forrest.
It served its medical purpose for more than a decade before being sold to Ansett Pioneer long-distance coaches who used it for travellers to lie over on long trips.
In 1952, it was bought by the government of Sri Lanka and then used as the country's High Commission for 60 years. A High Commission is an embassy for a Commonwealth country.
The Sri Lankan "democratic socialist republic" has built a new embassy in Yarralumla, so the old building has gone to rack and ruin.
One separate out-building (the old nurses' quarters) is lived in by some staff, including a chauffeur.
But local people fear the High Commission plans to either redevelop it or sell it.
They don't want it knocked down. "It's just a lot of history," said Leanne Johnson, who lives across the road.
"It seems such a shame that it's just been left. Canberra was a designed city and we would hate to lose the feeling of it - that historical sense."
The embassy says the area won't lose its elegant building. Demolition is out of the question. Instead, the old hospital would become the ambassador's residence.
A spokesperson said "plans to renovate and refurbish this property and convert it into the residence of the High Commissioner have been made".
The neighbours aren't quite reassured by the High Commission's promise.
Ms Johnson said she wondered "if it is words without much action. I remain hopeful for the best outcome for Allawah".
What would Sister Petrie do?