Sunday, 1 May 2016

Old Hutchins School Building

The Hutchins School was founded in 1846 as a memorial to The Venerable William Hutchins, first Archdeacon of the colony of Van Diemen’s Land. Intended by the Church of England as a southern feeder school for Christ’s College at Bishopsbourne, it outlived the College and eventually absorbed its predecessor, along with several other notable schools, to become the pre-eminent boys’ school in Tasmania.

Hutchins commenced operations under Headmaster J R Buckland at Ingle Hall in lower Macquarie Street, one of the oldest homes still standing in Hobart. In 1849 it moved a few blocks up Macquarie Street to a purpose-built schoolhouse designed by Tasmanian architect, William Archer on grounds that were part of the Government Garden. The site now affectionately known as 'the old school'. In 1907 and 1911 Hutchins amalgamated with King's Grammar School and Queen's College, and after difficult times at the turn of the century enrolments were again healthy. In 1912 it took over another Hobart school, Queen's College, which had been founded in 1893. In 1913, the Christ College Wing was added, designed by architect Alex North in the gothic style of the orginal building.

By the 1950s the School was growing too large for its inner-city site and a new Junior School was built on an elevated site overlooking the River Derwent at Sandy Bay. The Senior School followed later, constructed on the adjacent site of the former Queenborough Cemetery The Buckland family’s combined forty-six years in charge of Hutchins served to set the School on a distinguished educational and spiritual path, and it continues to expand and develop to this day.

In 1957 a new Junior School opened at Sandy Bay, following the sub-primary block opened there in 1947 and the Memorial Oval in 1955. The Senior School followed in stages, after the purchase of the former Queenborough Cemetery in 1960 and the subsequent construction of a boarding house, science wing, administration block and classrooms, all opened in 1964.

The Macquarie Street building was sold in 1965 and Hutchins commenced full operations at Sandy Bay the following year, gradually adding a Middle School, Early Learning Centre, chapel, gymnasium, auditorium, sports grounds and performing arts centre.

In 1967, the Masonic Club purchased the buildings, while the original school areas of land were sold to other owners. The original Hutchins School building became the home of the Hobart Masonic Club until 2002 while the Christ College building were leased out to private tenants and continue to house private tenants. In the tradition of the Freemasons whose early origins dated back to the middle ages who built many of the castles and cathedrals in Europe, the outside of this historic sandstone building was preserved in its original state during their tenure.

The building has become the home for the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources organization which continues to occupy the building to this day.

This building is wonderful and is truly a remarkable structure and a really impressive part of the Macquarie Street streetscape and Hobart’s history.

Main Text & Information Sources – 
Interpretive signs at the site

Historic Photo –