Haut de la Garenne's bluff stone frontage would have made a striking impression on young residents arriving at the site for the first time.
Victims of alleged abuse led police to Haut de la Garenne
Built on a Jersey hilltop in 1867, it was the Industrial School for "young people of the lower classes of society and neglected children".
It later became the Jersey Home for Boys, closing in 1986 before reopening in 2004 as Jersey's first youth hostel.
Now it is a crime scene after a child's remains were found buried inside.
The discovery of the child's partial remains came after a wider inquiry was launched in 2006 into alleged child abuse dating back more than 40 years at premises run by Jersey States and voluntary groups, including Haut de la Garenne.
The alleged attacks are believed to have taken place between the 1960s and the early years of the present decade, although the bulk of them are thought to have occurred in the 1970s and 1980s.
As an Industrial School, Haut de la Garenne was intended to solve problems of juvenile delinquency, by removing poor and neglected children from their home environment and placing them in a boarding school.
According to local historians, good behaviour was rewarded by treats, like cricket on the common and tea and cakes.
Poor behaviour led to deprivation of some sort, with flogging or solitary confinement for the worst offenders.
During the Occupation of Jersey during World War II the building was used as a signal station by the Germans.
After the war it continued under various guises, as a school and orphanage housing up to 60 young people with special needs, before closing as a home in the mid 1980s.
More recent uses have included playing the part of a police station in the Bergerac detective television series.
A £2.25m refurbishment transformed the two-storey Victorian building into Jersey's first youth hostel, a 100-bed facility, which opened in 2004.
Jersey's Deputy Chief Police Officer, Lenny Harper, said the police investigation into child abuse on the island which began last year started as a covert operation, following a number of cases of offences including paedophilia.
He said: "A common theme from speaking to the victims was that we should be looking at Haut de la Garenne.
"It wasn't one whistleblower. There were a number of victims who had detailed what they say as horrific treatment that they received at Haut de la Garenne, and we seem to be establishing just that."
He said that some residents had reported sexual and physical abuse from the 1940s and 1950s, but the authorities had not followed up the complaints.
He said: "People did report things and all the agencies involved perhaps could have dealt with them better.
"But we are talking about a different age with different attitudes.
"Some people suffered because they were not dealt with in the way they should have been."
Haut de la Garenne is now only beginning to giving up its secrets as the search for more child remains continues and witnesses who say they suffered abuse there come forward from as far away as Australia and Thailand.