Maitland Grossmann High School

Quality Education in a Caring Learning Community

Telephone02 4934 2066

Our School History

Maitland Girls' High School                 The Manse was a two-storey building



Maitland Girls' High School, (along with Maitland High, A School for Boys, to give it the exact title) were the only High Schools outside the Sydney area for many years.  They served the local community as well as more remote areas.

On 5 January 1844 there was an advertisement in the Maitland Mercury setting out conditions for the Entrance examination to the Girls' and Boys' High Schools.

A Building known as The Manse (erected by Rev. William McKintyre in 1855) was leased for three years from Mr. Benvie for one hundred and eighty-five pounds per annum.  The Maitland Boy' High was commenced in Sauchie House, which until then was a school run by Dr. Fraser.  As can be seen, the two schools ere complementary to the area.

The first intake of girls, being three who had won scholarships and fourteen who were eligible for admission, according to the Maitland Mercury of Saturday 19 January 1884.  They commenced on the 21 January 1884 and were assembled in the small yard of the Manse and marched in alphabetical order through the lunch room to the schoolroom and commenced their leaning under Miss Olsen, the first Headmistress

Those first seventeen pupils were: Eve Benjamin, Florence Beckett, Martha Brown, Blanche Brown, Lily Coleman, Gertrude Drew; May Edmunds, Florence Fry, Ellie Gulliver, Florence Gray, Susan Hobson, Mabel Mills, Gladys Mills, Maud Portus, Lizzie Ross, Agnes Scobie, Minnie Short.Nine more girls enrolled during the year: Ysa Smith, Mary McKenzie, Mary Campbell, Ada McGovern, Eva Mitchel, Clara Cruise, Emily Cruise, Naomi Crouch, Kezia Brackley.

After the 1893 flood, land was sought which was out of flood reach.  What later became known as Grossmann House was acquired by the Department of Public Instruction from Mr. J. D. Prentice in 1890, for this purpose.

This building was one of two houses built on adjoining blocks of land, each being the mirror image of the other, which were built by business partners and friends, Isaac Beckett and Samuel Owen.  They were built circa 1870 (first appearing on the rates books in 1871), the architect being William White.  Beckett's home was originally known as Brough House (now the Art Gallery) and Owen's home was known as Entcliffe.  (One of Samuel Owen's daughters married a prominent citizen, Edward Peter Capper, who was an ironmonger and was regarded as the founder of St. Paul's Anglican Church, Maitland.

To get back to the history of the Girls' High, in 1894, the school moved into the lower floor of the house and Miss Janette Grossmann moved into the upper storey.  There were fifty girls attending at this time.  Miss Grossmann was a well-loved Principal and one whose influence was still in force in the school when I first came in contact with it in 1980.  She was a lady with a strong, cultured personality and was much loved and revered by her pupils.  The values she imparted to the school were of such a quality that the school developed an enviable standing within the wider community, which were of an enduring nature.

Continued growth necessitated another change of venue and in 1963 Maitland Girls' High School moved to the present location in Cumberland Street, East Maitland.  (The Boys' High had moved to a location in High Street, East Maitland much earlier, interestingly, they were housed for a time in Cumberland Hall, which became the location for Girls' High.  The mansion, Cumberland Hall was demolished to build Maitland Girls' High, it was originally a grant to Enoch Cobcroft who became insolvent while building it and was sold to Alexander Brown.  The old school was used for a time as a branch of the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music.  It was then taken over by the National Trust, eventually became Grossmann House and was fitted out as a Victorian gentleman's residence. 

Maitland Girls' High School and Maitland High, A School for Boys, were made co-educational high schools by the then State Minister for Education, Mr Rodney Cavalier.  The year 1986 was the last year of the single sex high schools. The School is now know as Maitland Grossmann High School and  there remains strong school spirit in the school population and great dedication by present teachers, a wonderful legacy from all those years ago.

Janice E. Bellamy

References:  Our Girls, Maitland Girls' High School 1884 - 1984 – compiled and edited by Mollie Eichholzer; Cumberland Hall  - compiled by Alysson Watson and Karen O'Rourke; Maitland Mercury.

      Senior Class 1884MGHS Hall