At the heart of the School’s Main Building is what today’s students know as the Annie Mackay Room. However, ask any Grammar girl who attended the School before 1963 where the Assembly Hall was and they would take you directly to that very space.
Each morning the whole school gathered there with the sixth formers on the mezzanine level. As the School population grew, the space became more and more crowded. In 1964, with the double intake of Forms 3 and 4 [Years 8 and 9], the room was too small. The morning assemblies were then moved to the gymnasium. The space later became the boarders’ dining room and when the Boarding House closed in 2002, the room reverted to being a central passageway, and meeting and event location for members of the School community.
Annie Mackay began her time at the School as a pupil in 1882 before the Main Building existed. She gained her Senior Certificate in 1887, winning the Lady Lilley Medal in the same year. She returned to Girls Grammar in 1889 to teach Arithmetic and History. Later, between 1915 and 1924, Annie Mackay was Head Mistress, the first past student to hold that role.
Annie Mackay, therefore, lived through the establishment of Girls Grammar as a school in its own right—in its own space—and she would certainly have understood the significance of this building on Gregory Terrace designed by Richard Gailey.
In appreciation of her inspiration and dedication, Miss Mackay’s final Sixth Form class organised a brass plaque to celebrate her work. It showcased one of her favourite sentiments: courage, truth, and the beauty of simplicity. Today it is attached to the wall in the room named in her honour.
However, what is especially important about the Annie Mackay Room is that, as well as fulfilling a multitude of social and official roles, it also includes tangible evidence of the heritage of the School. On its walls are placed photographs of current and previous School leaders and the honour boards of award winners and those who served in global conflicts.
It is almost as if, when you walk through this room, you hear the echoes of 145 years of Grammar girls and their memories.
Mrs Jenny Davis