Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

Search the Guide

To find information in this Guide please select one of the green coloured options.

To Select a Page Group when displayed, right click and select 'Open'.

Copyright Conditions Apply.



See Also KNOWLE HOUSE (Centenary History Text, 1961)

Knowle House in Skene Street Geelong was the first location of the Geelong College. It opened as the new Geelong College at 11.00am on July 8, 1861. Knowle House itself was a focus for a number of cottages and outbuildings which together made up the School. George Morrison, the first Principal, described the early school in the following way: ‘as the number of scholars increased, three contiguous cottages were rented, the Principal purchasing the next house as his private residence. The whole establishment constituted in itself a small village... ‘ . No image of Knowle House at the time of its use as the Geelong College is known. A photo of unknown date was taken early in the twentieth century long after the College had vacated the site. The main look of the building appears little changed in the photo. Knowle House was eventually demolished and replaced in 1964 - ironically, by an Old Collegian.

Knowle House, circa 1910.

Knowle House, circa 1910.

Ad Astra in 1964 reproduced material from the Geelong Advertiser as follows: 'Built in about 1853 by Frederick Ferdinand Kawerau, Geelong Railway Company engineer, surveyor and speculator who advertised it as the Hotel Garni, the building began life as a furnished apartment house of eighteen rooms, kitchen, servants’ quarters and stable' . From about 1856 onwards it is believed to have housed at least nine different schools. The first of these was the Rev G O Vance’s Grammar School, which operated in 1856-57 before being continued as the Geelong Church of England Grammar School in its new quarters at the corner of Moorabool and McKillop Streets. Soon afterwards, a Mrs Boyce was announcing Knowle House, Establishment for Young Ladies, late the Rev Mr Vance’s Grammar School. This appears to be the first use of the name Knowle House. Other schools which operated at Knowle House were:

-         Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies (conducted by Mrs Arnold and Miss Hoskins)
-         The University School (Alan Wells Kearney)
-         Knowle House Grammar School (John Leechman)
-         Geelong Collegiate Institute (J. Parsons)
-         Boarding and Day School for Young Ladies (Miss McCann)
-         Central College (Misses Annie and Bridget Clanchy 1895-1923.

Following the unexpected closure of Central College in 1923 several Central College students, eighteen in all, including R D Birdsey; M Bartlett; L Hassett; and N Palmer transferred to the Geelong College. The Ad Astra article speculated that this closure may have given life-saving stimulus to the Geelong College.

By the 1930s and 1940s, Knowle House was owned by Miss Florence Royce, an artist specializing in pottery and china painting. It then reverted to its original use as apartments. By the 1960s the dilapidated property then known as Wahroonga Flats was ready for replacement and subdivision. Following demolition, a block of ‘flats’ and a house on the eastern portion were erected on the site.

Sources: Ad Astra April 1964 p 3.
© The Geelong College. Unless otherwise attributed, The Geelong College asserts its creative and commercial rights over all images and text used in this publication. No images or text material may be copied, reproduced or published without the written authorisation of The College.