The Main Building and its Many Images

Sir Charles Lilley, Premier and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, fought hard to establish a school to educate young women, a vision that was thought so far ahead of its time it was deemed a radical ‘experiment’ in 1875.

Brisbane Girls Grammar School was originally located at 428 George Street, and then the corner of Lilley Street and Wickham Terrace, Spring Hill in a house owned by Hon John Douglas, a Trustee at the time.

The Main Building, designed by prominent architect Richard Gailey and built in the Victorian style of architecture, was opened in 1884 with Sir Charles Lilley laying the foundation stone in February 1883.

It served as a boarding house, with administration and classrooms on the ground floor until 2002, when the boarding facilities closed. Since then, the building has predominately housed administration offices, with classrooms added back in 2019.

Since its beginnings, this iconic Gregory Terrace building has been the subject of artistic images held in the School’s Fine Arts Collection. The images take their form from various media—drawings, etchings, photographs, paintings and even textiles and screen print.

A number of these images were proudly created by former students. One of the works is a lovely watercolour by BGGS alumna, Linden Seale (1976), presented to the School in 1989. Depicting a gentle perspective of the building, settled into its time and place, the painting is a fixture of Main Reception.

Commissioned for the 140th Anniversary of the School in 2015, alumna and renowned artist Jan Jorgensen (Geoldner, 1958), created a colourful and vibrant contemporary view, which immediately catches the eye of visitors as they enter Main Reception.

The Main Building proudly remains the formal entrance and reception area to the School and these paintings form, appropriately, part of a small collection of images related to the School, and offer a welcome to all who pass through the front door.

Both these paintings show the Main Building through loving eyes as it transforms across time, and yet remains true to its origins.

Ms Lorraine Thornquist (1967)
Manager of Collections

Brisbane Girls Grammar School. 1989. Watercolour. Linden Seale (1976)

Brisbane Girls Grammar School. 2015. Acrylic on canvas. Jan Jorgensen (1958)

Mrs Ip and Jacqueline Ip (2012), winner of the Esther Beanland Medal for textiles.

1910 Postcard