Hamilton Primary School (Staatsmeisjesskool) Main Building, 328 Visagie Street, Pretoria Central, Pretoria
The Staatsmeisjesschool (State School for Girls) Main Building is a historical building. The design of the building is ascribed to the architect James Klasing (?) of the Departement Publieke Werken (Department of Public Works) of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek, under directorship of S.W. Wierda. It was built between October 1898 and July 1899 by Daanen & Dorlas contractors. The school was opened in October 1899 as the State School for girls. Later during World War II it was used as a hospital and only reopened in 1902.
Current known heritage status
The building is currently listed as a Provincial (Grade II) Heritage Resource.
Possible interested and affected parties
- Tshwane Building Heritage Association
- Pretoria Institute for Archtiecture (PIA)
- Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria
- City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality
Under the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek’s governance, the first attempt in 1878 to build a girls' school failed, as then-president Paul Kruger was not supportive of the idea of girls receiving a higher education separately from boys. Later in 1883, the Hoogerre Meisjessschool was established on Skinner Street under headmistress Miss J.A. Lorenz, and when the ZAR took the ownership of the school it was used as a training facility for teachers. It hosted 300 pupils at its pinnacle.
Plans were set in motion for a new school to be built, and 4 sites were bought (two at the corner of Visagie and Prinsloo Streets in 1893, and another two on Visagie Steet in 1896). These sites were cleared in 1897. Construction commenced on 15 October 1898 and and was completed on 25 July 1899 at a cost of approximately R750 000.
The school was planned to be opened in October 1899, but this did not go ahead due to the impending Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). In January 1900 the building began to be used as a hospital, which lasted for the duration of the War. The School was reopened as the “Girls’ High School” on 10 October 1902 under the leadership of headmistress Miss Edith Aitken. The school moved to Arcadia in July 1915.
In 1915, after the Girls’ High School moved out, the main building became part of the Commercial High School under the leadership of Mr. A.R. Dallas.
Commercial Primary opened on 20 July 1920 on the ground floor of the main building, with Commercial High upstairs.
The school reopened as the Hamilton School on 6 April 1926 due to the confusion created by two schools in one building; the building hosted Hamilton Junior downstairs and Hamilton Senior upstairs.
In January 1946 the two schools were amalgamated and renamed Hamilton Primary School, the name it still carries today.
The building was declared a National Monument in 1977.
Description of alterations with dates affected
A gym hall was added to the main building.
Description of site and/or structures and/or interior spaces
The building is in the Wilhelmine style with symmetrical arrangements. It is a two-storey masonry structure on a sandstone plinth. It consists of two north-facing gable walls built of timber, a steeply-pitched corrugated iron roof, and a portico underneath a balcony. The stone foundation walls are in the process of weathering; they have been painted to create a protective coating. The building is well maintened. An entrance was later added to the south façade facing the street to accommodate larger numbers of students. The floor of the lobby is furnished with imported tiles.
M.V. Watson. 1979. "Hamilton's History".
Blueprints: National Archives, Pretoria.