It all started when...

The original Macquarie Street state school was housed in the old Bethesda chapel (opposite All Saints Church) in Macquarie Street from 1856. In 1895 a new Macquarie Street State School was constructed to serve the growing needs of the South Hobart area. In the 1920s a number of alterations were made to cater for the schools needs, including the division of the main classroom into two in 1925 and an internal division in the entrance to form a teacher’s room in 1928. Despite these efforts by the late 1920s it was clear that the building was being outgrown. In 1929 a new infant school was built in Weld Street close to the rivulet, after which the Macquarie Street school was used for the senior classes. This split between the two school sites became more problematic with time, and also a safety hazard as car traffic along Macquarie Street increased. A number of additions were made to the main school building in the 1930s, including a new library in 1935, and a new teacher’s room in 1936. In 1942 a weatherboarded physical culture hall (gymnasium) was erected on the site. This continued to be used by the South Hobart primary school until the mid 1980s. In the 1950s there was growing pressure on the Education Department to build a new primary school. This was finally achieved on the Anglesea Street site in 1963, whence the old Macquarie Street school was closed. During the years that the school was operating the grounds and gardens played an important role in the life of the school, as play areas, for beautification, and as a focus of study with nature study and gardening being on the curriculum at various times. A large landscaping project was undertaken in 1960 by then principal Mr D. Williams.

Following the closure of the school, the building was used by the Education Department’s Library scheme, before being taken over as an adult education centre in 1969. In this capacity the centre served the Greater Hobart area with classes being taught in a range of subjects, such as local politics, leadership, family history, driving skills, environmental issues, craft, art and jewellery making. It also served as the migrant education centre for a while. During the late 1980s the gymnasium was used for exercise and dance classes, for meetings and exhibitions and also as a crèche.

Restoration works were carried out on the main building in 1991 and a new addition to the building constructed in 1993 housing toilets, kitchenette and office space.

In addition to its educational role, the Macquarie Street State school building, has over the years been used by the community as a polling place, for meetings and concerts. 

This is an except from the Conservation Plan written by Kathryn Evans in 2014