History of the School

School house home

The Andrew Ross Museum is housed in what could be considered a museum piece itself.

The former school house in Kangaroo Ground was built in 1879 and retains many of its original period features.

It has been home to the museum for the last 25 years and boasts three display rooms, an office and store room. The outside dunny still exists in working order and is available for use by visitors to the museum.

The school house was added on to the ‘new’ school a year after it was built and was used as a staff residence until the early 1990s. The attached school building, measuring approximately 15m x5.5m, began life as a one-roomed, tongue and groove lined building in October 1878 accommodating 60 pupils.

Before then, schooling for children from the area’s first farming families was provided in a nearby slab building, built on a half-acre plot donated by local farmer James Donaldson and built by Samuel Furphy, father of the novelist Joseph.

That original slab building was a single room measuring just 9m x 5.5m and was at first lined, but the green slabs soon shrank back and the wind and rain entered the cracks which had to be stuffed with paper in an attempt to keep the weather out.

Not only did this original humble building serve as a school, it also doubled as a Presbyterian church. Fees of 18 pence a week were charged for education. At one time a corner of this little room was curtained for the schoolmaster’s living space and the pulpit was used for sleeping.

The first school master was Andrew Ross, who also took church services when the minister was unable to attend, which happened frequently as he had long distances to travel on poorly constructed roads.

In addition to its role as school, church and one-time teacher’s residence the building was also used as a Court of Petty Sessions in 1857 and served as a post office from 1854 until 1858.

The present day staff and pupils are accommodated in a much larger, contemporary style building, constructed on Graham Road in 1974, still within the boundary of the original school grounds. It has been further extended over the years with additional classrooms added in 2009-10 with the bonus structure of an outdoor, all weather playing area with BBQ facilities for school functions.

The outdoor covered area acts as a metaphorical bridge linking the old and the new, positioned between the 1878 building and the modern classrooms. The present generation of children are reminded of the history and heritage of their school on a daily basis as the old tongue and groove building is now used as an art room by pupils and one room of the attached museum is also retained for music lessons.


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