Sunday, 26 July 2015

Macquarie Street State School

The Macquarie Street State School was built in 1895, replacing a building of the same name. It served as one of the principal Hobart schools until it was finally replaced by the South Hobart Primary School in 1964. The building is substantially the same as when built. The building is solid sandstone, with a corrugated steel roof. The timber windows appear to be the same as when they were built. The roof was probably originally slate or shingle.

The original building had four classrooms. One of these was divided in two c1937. At the same time an extra window was placed in one of the classrooms created by the subdivision. A teachers' office was added c1938. Originally intended to be constructed in sandstone, this was eventually constructed of bricks rendered in cement, to look like sandstone blocks. At about this time the ceilings were lowered to make heating easier. The original pipe lined ceilings which followed the roofline still exist above the lowered ceilings. In the late 1940s or early 1950s a weatherboard library was added to the back, along the Paget Street boundary. At some time basic plumbing has been added, as has electricity. In 1964 a ramp was added to the side door (Macquarie Street frontage.)

In 1930 the current South Hobart PS infant block was built in Anglesea St , meaning students were separated into the ‘‘top school’’ and ‘‘bottom school’’. This delightful tale comes from the first move to the Anglesea site where the first building was for infant classes. It was recounted in an overall history of the school’s changes by an ex-pupil, Ray Jeffrey, in an article in the Saturday Evening Mercury in February, 1964: “In the move, the chairs, tables and small equipment were transported by the children, themselves. For all of one day they resembled a nest of ants at work up and down the street. The first party of about 20 infants on the move mistook directions, and presented themselves, complete with their loads, at the front door of a newly-completed home near the school.” No doubt there was one startled home-owner! (The significance of the 1964 newspaper report is that that was the year when the consolidation of the school on the one site was completed.)

The historic property, which dates back to 1895, was a school until 1964 and for the following 40 years predominantly served as an adult education facility owned by the Tasmanian Government. It was placed on the open market but was unable to find a suitable buyer.

Local residents and local MPs began lobbying for the site to be used as a community hub and by March 2015, the Tasmanian Government announced confirmation of state and federal government funding for the transformation of the former Macquarie Street Primary School building into a community, arts and cultural hub.

The $2.3 million innovative arts and cultural centre will provide an affordable space for artists, groups and organizations and serve as a place for locals to meet, make new connections and undertake activities. A brilliant way to preserve a beautiful heritage building and an integral piece of the local community.

Main Text & Information Sources –  
Australian Heritage Database

4 comments:

  1. Most schools built in Victorian times were red brick, presumably cheap to build and totally devoid of special character. I could have gone to just about any primary school in the country and would have felt immediately at home.

    But this was different. Although the original intentional to build in sandstone, the compromise of bricks rendered in cement, made to look like sandstone blocks, was actually successful. It has an elegance that red bricks could never achieve.

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    1. Certainly agree, Hels. It's a very elegant building and I'm so glad it has been retained in a useful capacity for the community. Probably holds lots of memories for locals.

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  2. They went to all that trouble to build a really substantial school, then they go and put a tin roof on it. Don't you have a tile-works in Tasmania? It would look so much nicer!

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    1. Interesting Point. I wonder why they did do that!

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