The provision of Catholic education for girls by the French order of the Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ) from 1882 followed the abolition of state aid in Victoria in 1872. Looking overseas for religious orders willing to staff its new schools, the Catholic Church sought help from the FCJ order. The second FCJ convent founded in Melbourne, Genazzano was named after Genazzano, Italy, where according to popular belief there was a miraculous painting of Our Lady of Good Counsel who was chosen as patroness of the school. In May 1889 after the purchase of the 15-acre (6 ha) Kew property, Woodlands, a community of eight sisters and 14 students, moved into Range View, a large house on Mont Victor Road. A convent designed by William Wardell was built in 1889-91. In 1948 the school expanded to include the adjacent 2-acre (0.8 ha) property 300 Grange Hill. A modern classroom block was added in 1955 to accommodate large postwar numbers. Although the Catholic population in 19th-century Victoria was predominantly working class, the school catered for a growing middle class. Initially focused on providing an education for future Catholic wives and mothers, Genazzano had adopted a strongly academic curriculum by the late 20th century.