The first Dandenong state school was built at the corner of Robinson and Foster Streets and officially opened its doors on 4 May 1874. Not long after the Railway was built to Dandenong, safety became an issue with the schools proximity to the station, so it moved to its present site on Foster Street in 1881 and welcomed about 200 students.
The Gothic-inspired building took nine months to construct and at the time its ornate style was considered to add significantly to the township’s architecture. It had three rooms – one for boys, one for girls and a gallery – and modern fittings for the day including a porch, a hat rack and ventilation.
But not everyone was pleased with the new school. Joseph Harris, the St Kilda MP at the time, said that although the building was pleasing, he felt the expenditure on school buildings in the colony was too lavish. He said that if more unpretentious buildings were erected, surplus finance could be used to open schools in more sparsely-populated districts.
A classroom, head teacher’s office and lavatory were added in 1901 and another four classrooms were completed in 1909. Further classrooms were added in the 1940s and 1950s to cope with expanding enrollments, which topped 760 pupils in 1960. The school today has over 300 students from families representing 45 different nationalities.
Image courtesy of D.D.H.S.