St Joseph’s Primary School was established by the Sisters of Mercy on Arthurton Road in 1893. In 1904 the Sisters of the Good Samaritan were asked by the Roman Catholic Church to take over from the Sisters of Mercy.
The Good Samaritan Sisters traveled to school by horse and cart from South Yarra each day. The Sisters had charge of the school until 1973 when the first lay Principal was appointed.
In 1919 the school moved from the wooden building on Arthurton Road to a newly built brick premises on the present site in James Street, Northcote. In the early years the school catered for children from Prep up to Year 8. The girls in Years 7 and 8 attended a commercial class where they learnt typing and shorthand.
In the 1980s a library was constructed at the front of the building and the external stairs were removed. In the 1990s further refurbishments were completed. When the 'Building the Education Revolution' funding was granted by the Federal Government, classrooms were refurbished, a community kitchen was installed and a lift to cater for the 3 storey building was added.