What happened to the closed schools of the 1990s? Part 1

While doing some research for BoroondaraWiki on the closed Greythorn High School, I stumbled across a whole host of other resources related to schools that are no longer around.

Greythorn was one of many schools that were shut in the 1990s. It was eventually subdivided and sold for private housing.

This got me thinking about other closed schools – whatever happened to the land? There were hundreds of sites that were sold by the Victorian Government during this time. Some abandoned buildings remained, others were turned into parks or other community uses. Still others were sold and developed into whatever their owners wanted.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather some of the more interesting examples of closed schools that I have come across in my little rabbit hole of local history research. I should add that much of this information comes from the excellent ‘Learning from the Past‘ website, which has blurbs and lists of closed schools from all around Victoria. If you are interested in this topic or local history in general, it’s a great website and I’d highly recommend having a look.

Altona North Technical School (1959 – 1992)

Four schools used to exist in this area of Altona North. In the early 1990s, the Victorian Government announced a major amalgamation of three of the four schools. One school could not survive the process, and that unlucky campus happened to be Altona North Technical School.

The buildings of the former Altona North Technical School on Millers Road in 2001 (Map data ©2019 Google and ©2019 DigitalGlobe)

What the site is used for today. The buildings were abandoned and remained reasonably intact until around 2007. At this time, they and some surrounding industrial buildings were demolished and replaced with a series of ‘big box’ retail warehouses. Today this includes a Bunnings, Officeworks and Jaycar.

Ararat Technical School (1969 – 1997)

Another victim of a merger, the Ararat Technical School managed to survive for longer than most as a campus of Ararat Secondary College.

What the site is used for today. The site was sold and taken over by a construction company. However, they retained some of the original classroom buildings which are typical of school construction in that era.

Blackburn Technical School (1959 – 1992)

This school opened in temporary buildings before moving to its site on Koonung Road. Not to be confused with the Scottish school of the same name, it sat in a predominantly low-density residential part of the eastern suburbs.

What the site is used for today. This is one of the few closed schools sites that is still used for public education purposes. While the northern part of the land parcel was sold for private housing, the majority of the land and buildings survived to house Old Orchard Primary School, which moved from Springfield Road to its present location in 1995.

Brunswick High School (1964 – 1999)

Brunswick High went through numerous iterations. It began in temporary buildings before moving to its permanent site on Victoria Street in 1967. After mergers and consolidations, it was officially closed in 1999 and the imposing school buildings became disused.

What the site is used for today. Moreland Council and the Australian Government re-purposed the site as the Brunswick Business Incubator, which aims to support start-up and emerging local enterprises.

Essendon Technical School (1939 – 1992)

This heritage-listed building was designed by Percy Everett, an important figure in public buildings through a large chunk of the 20th century. He was appointed Chief Architect of the Victorian Public Works Department in 1934, a position he held until his retirement in 1953. During this time, he build hundreds of important civic structures right across the state – one of them being the Essendon Technical School, which became a model for other education facilities.

What the site is used for today. The beautiful art deco building is still in use, but for tertiary education instead as the Kangan Institute. It is in a nice location next to wide streets, which allow it to be viewed in its full context from a distance.

Fitzroy High School

Nestled in the inner north, this red brick building is one of the few that has returned to its former use. It opened in 1957 and merged with Fitzroy Secondary College in 1988, but the College was closed in 1992. Kangan TAFE utilised the site until 1999 when it was left vacant.

What the site is used for today: The State Government reopened the school in 2004 in response to a community campaign.

Glen Waverley Primary School

Originally known as Black Flat Primary School, it was renamed to Glen Waverley Primary School in 1921. Due to declining enrolments, the school merged with Glen Waverley Heights Primary School in 1993 and the site sold to developers.

What the site is used for today: Most of the school’s land was sold for private housing development. However, as the original building had a high level of heritage protection, it was not demolished. It is now the Black Flat Community Hall and appears to have been well-maintained.

Hawksburn Primary School

This school has been through a couple of different names! Originally opened was Prahran Primary School in 1875, it changed to Prahran North Primary School in 1906. Finally, it became Hawksburn Primary School in 1924.

The building itself is of high historical significance and is listed on both the Victorian Heritage Register and by the National Trust. It was one of the winning designs of a competition run by the Department of Education, designed by Crouch & Wilson.

What the site is used for today: After the school closed, its grounds were sold for private housing development. However, the imposing main building was retained and is now an auction house.

Part 2 of this list will be the topic of the next post – stay tuned! Follow me on Twitter or subscribe to email notifications for the latest updates.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

29 August, 2019 at 5:35 pm

Something Interesting to note about Brunswick Secondary is that the school temporarily had 2 campuses in the 1990s, all the Junior kids went to the Campus on Dawson Street (Where the school is now), while the Senior Students were in the Victoria Street Campus featured here.
For 1999 (and possibly a couple of years before that), every student went to the Victoria Street Campus while the one on Dawson Street saw a huge upgrade. By 2000 the upgrade was complete and the students were moved down to Dawson Street.

What happened to the closed schools of the 1990s? Part 2 | Philip Mallisreply
4 October, 2019 at 7:02 am

[…] Read Part 1 here. […]

David Freply
4 October, 2019 at 9:50 am

Not in the 90s but Watsonia High School was closed in 1989 when it was amalgamated with the Tech to become Greensborough Secondary College.

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