Stanmore Public School, including interiors | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Stanmore Public School, including interiors

Item details

Name of item: Stanmore Public School, including interiors
Other name/s: Mona Villa
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Education
Category: School - State (public)
Primary address: 96 Cambridge Street, Stanmore, NSW 2048
Local govt. area: Marrickville
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
96 Cambridge StreetStanmoreMarrickville  Primary Address
102 Cambridge StreetStanmoreMarrickville  Alternate Address
Holt StreetStanmoreMarrickville  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

This large public school is one of a number in this area which were built in response to the NSW Public Instruction Act of 1880. It forms an attractive corner element for historical, social and aesthetic reasons. The grounds include the former private residence, Mona Villa, acquired by the school in 1911. The school contains an assortment of buildings that represent the different major educational styles over the last 100 years.
Date significance updated: 11 Jan 12
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: Blackman & Parkes
Physical description: The public school facing Cambridge Street was built of Flemish bond brickwork on a hammered sandstone base. The building features a gabled bay with triple arched windows, to either side of an arcaded central bay, which is approached by three wide sets of sandstone steps. A raised central parapet has the date 1883. Rendered window surrounds, pilasters, strings and parapet. The 1894 building has similar detailing.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Date condition updated:18 Jan 99
Modifications and dates: Many buildings have been constructed on the site since 1883.
Current use: School (Primary)


Historical notes: In 1880, there were five schools in a one-mile radius of Stanmore Station, but none within a comfortable walking distance, and all were grappling with their own accommodation problems. The church schools in the area were expected to close in 1882, so the NSW Education Department decided to acquire a site for a school at Stanmore. A site, just under an acre, on the corner of Cambridge and Holt Streets was resumed in February 1881. Additional land was resumed in February 1882 in response to local pressure. The school site then totalled two acres.

The NSW Government Architect Cobden Parkes, with another architect, Blackman designed the original building located on the corner of Cambridge and Holt Streets. This building was designed to be impressive from the street as well as easy to extend to meet the demands of rapid growth in the area.

The building was opened in April 1884 and already the school had a large numbers of pupils, as did many city schools. From 1886 - 1961 Stanmore Public School was both a primary and secondary school and the continual pressure of enrolments mant that the site has undergone many changes and additions over time.

The original school building was extended in 1885 to form a new girls wing, and many other temporary buildings (weathersheds and the like) were erected on the site to deal with the large numbers of students. In 1893, enrolment exceded 1000, and the school became seriously overcrowded.

A new two-storey brick building was constructed on Cambridge Street in 1894 (still existing) for the infants school. Although the accommodation situation was often acute subsequent to 1894, this was the last of the permanent additions until 1923. In 1896 enrolment passed 1300.

In 1902, no new students were enrolled which managed to keep enrolment to just under 1500. In 1904 additions to the school were finally considered, the Department's architect presented two options:

1. Remodel the 1884 building and add a second storey or
2. Demolish the existing building and erect a new 2 storey building.

The project was deferred in late 1904 due to lack of funding. Student enrolments began to drop, largely due to the opening of Taverner's Hill School.

In 1907 a report was prepared by the school outlining the no longer need to expand the school. The project was once again deferred. Changes in standards in the 1910 due to Inspector Parkinson saw Stanmore School subject to severe criticism.

This sparked the investigation into expanding the school. In 1911 the adjacent property "Mona Villa" was aquired and plans drawn up to create more classrooms on the site, however due to lack of funding these plans were not carried out till 1923.

In 1923, the Department could no longer delay capital works at the school and plans that had been first designed in 1904 and re-examined and modified in the intervening years were re-visited.

After the previous owner vacated "Mona Villa" in 1914, the school had moved in and modified the existing house, but by 1923 the average attendance at the school was over 1200 pupils and many classes were conducted outside and some off-site.

The existing plans from 1914 were no longer adequate to meet the current demand. New plans were designed. The first job to be competed was a new two-storey building along the Cavendish Street frontage. The infants building from 1894 was extended and remodelled and the original 1884 building was extended. The Mona Villa property was renovated in early 1924 and used by the secondary girls. In 1927 the old principals residence was renovated for school use. In 1932 the school reached its peak enrolment, 2008 students.

Even with the large capital works completed, overcrowding was again desperate partly due to the long delay in implementing the building works. Changes to the school system further overloaded Stanmore School. By 1931, there was a steep increase in secondary boys (numbering 425). The school population was now at its peak with 2008 pupils and it was this time that the subject portable classroom (now the QSHC building) was erected.

Stanmore Public School 1884-1984: A History Written by Jan Burnswoods (Dept of Education 1984, page 28) makes this account:

By early 1932 there were 9 secondary and 8 primary boys classes, and Inspector Riley was very conscious of the fact that the primary boys had been pushed into 'wretched' and 'intolerable' accommodation. Three classes were in the 'undivided hall badly ventilated and worse lighted’, one in the small room at the back of the hail and one in the conridor in the main boys building. Riley and Vivian were anxious to discontinue the use of the hall, and after a considerable struggle space was found on the crowded site for four portable classrooms. The rooms were placed where the back fence of the old residence had been, and although four 'fine shade trees' had to be destioyed and part of the domestic science section’s drying area was lost, everyone agreed it was worth it to get rid of the hall'.

The school continued to suffer under the strain of limited accommodation but enrolments began to fall, and by 1940 numbers were back to 1888 pupils. The accommodation problem largely stemmed from the fact that the school was a combined primary and secondary school from 1886 until 1961. Further changes to the school system, particularly the separation of the secondary students to their own designated secondary schools, enabled improvements to be made at Stanmore.

In the I 970s, the school underwent the last major building program and purchased flats and houses adjoining the eastern boundary to extend the site. Many of the temporary structures were removed including all but one of the portable classrooms, which now houses OSHC.

In 2003, a second building to house the children using 'after school' facilities was added to the Holt Street and Cavendish Street corner, and was designed by Vanessa Dudman. The building was required to comply with the new national standards for the care of children in out of school hours care facilities. But the new building necessitated the dismantling of the only play equipment at the school.

New playground equipment was installed in 2005.

The school stie, in its current form, contains an assortment of buildings that represent different major educational styles of the last 100 years. The multicultural nature of the area is reflected by the enrolment of children of 39 different nationalities in 1984.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Local. This large public school is one of a number in this area which were built in response to the NSW Public Instruction Act of 1880. The grounds include the former private residence, Mona Villa, acquired by the school in 1911. The school contains an assortment of buildings that represent the different major educational styles over the last 100 years.

Requires further assessment.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Local. The group of buildings and the grounds form an attractive corner element for historical, social and aesthetic reasons.

Requires further assessment.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Local. Requires further assessment.
SHR Criteria g)
Local. Requires further assessment.
Integrity/Intactness: The building is intact and retains its integrity.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

General maintenance and replace unsympathetic fencing.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanMarrickville LEP 2011I23912 Dec 11 2011/645 
Local Environmental PlanMarrickville Local Environmental Plan 2001 18 May 01 86 
Within a conservation area on an LEPwithin draft cons. area Marrickville LEP 2001    
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Marrickville Heritage Study19862.63Fox and AssociatesNovember 1984 No
Marrickville Heritage Study Review19972030105Tropman & Tropman Architects1997-1999 Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenJan Burnswoods1984Stanmore Public School 1884-1984
WrittenVanessa Dudman2002Heritage Impact Statement for Stanmore OSHC

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2030105
File number: 2.63

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