Ceremony for an important little house at a special school

| October 12, 2011 | 0 Comments

On 6 May, Independent Education joined the large audience of special guests, staff and girls to celebrate the revamp of a special little house at a well-known ISASA school for girls, Kingsmead College in Melrose, Johannesburg.

“Can you believe it was almost pulled down not so long ago?” was one recurring comment as old girls, past principals, parents and teachers gathered together with the school under a large marquee to celebrate a certain community spirit and a new life for Kingsmead House.

Over the years, this landmark building served as a boarding house, library, Head’s office and home, Science laboratory, music rooms, clothing and book shop, staff accommodation, photocopying centre, counselling rooms and a staff room! Many staff members still recall handwriting reports there after hours; wary of strange sounds purported to be a ghost!

After the Kingsmead choir sang a song composed by staff member Gillian Wilkinson especially for the occasion, Headmistress Lisa Kaplan told the audience: “Today, we think especially of our founder — Doris Vera Thompson. She wrote the following about the 1933 purchase of Kingsmead: ‘Several promising properties were inspected and one in Oaklands seemed a very favourable proposition… Mr. Westgate, the estate agent, telephoned to say he had an attractive house and grounds just come on the market. Would I like to see it? Almost I refused… However, we went, and found ourselves at a little house named Kingsmead, set in five acres of ground. This was part lovely garden… and part orchard with a paddock of horses, and old stables at the back entrance.

Before another month had passed, Kingsmead, the home of Mrs Pink, and before that, of Mr. Quinn, became Kingsmead College for Girls, Melrose. There followed weeks of concentrated effort. The purchase of Kingsmead was confirmed and a mortgage of 4 500 pounds raised on it.’

Kingsmead House is so special to the school because it is the physical representation of all that we stand for — it embodies our values, ethos and culture. Whenever we look at it, it will serve as a living reminder to all of our purpose. ”

The renovations began in July 2010, and at the start of 2011 the newly restored Kingsmead house — boasting gleaming wooden floors and more than just a coat of fresh paint — was reopened to house the Headmistress, her secretary, the Deputy Headmistress and the Business Manager.

Kingsmead House also houses a wealth of historical material that the school has collected during its 78-year history.

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Category: Spring 2011

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