The first development on the hill where St Laurence’s College now stands was the foundation of a minor seminary for boys called St Kilian’s by the first Bishop of Brisbane, Dr Quinn. In 1874 the Bishop urged the Christian Brothers to take responsibility for St Kilian’s as the first of their schools in Brisbane. Br Barrett was unimpressed, as he put it, by the frequent flooding of the streets by the river, and so he declined.
In 1899 this historic school, which was in turn under the control of the clergy and lay staff, was destroyed by fire. The new school, St Laurence’s, owes its foundation to Dr Duhig of whom The Advocate wrote, ‘His Grace Archbishop Duhig has thrown himself into the work of establishing St Laurence’s with his accustomed vigour.’
The first staff, Brothers J Hogan, Brennan, N Doran and D O’Connell and Mr Dean, faced 270 boys on the opening day in 1915. The original building is still standing. Two years later the Brothers’ Monastery was completed, and these two fine buildings with unpaved playing area between them on the crest of the hill fulfilled the accommodation needs for many years.
During World War II, the College was taken over by the Army and classes were moved to Greenslopes. A new classroom block was completed in 1961, providing much needed accommodation, and in 1968 the Archbishop Duhig Building over the cliff and the Archbishop O’Donnell Building, housing the Science laboratories were completed. The needs of the Catholic population of the Southside of Brisbane are evident by this rapid expansion. In 1973, Archbishop O’Donnell opened the new Secondary Library, the Br. Ryan Resource Centre, added an additional floor to the Archbishop O’Donnell Building and an imposing Chapel. In 1975, an additional floor of six classrooms was added to the Archbishop Duhig Building.
Subsequently the Manual Arts complex was completed in 1978 and the College gymnasium, named after Br T P Brady who died in office in 1981, was completed in that year. The Edmund Rice Building was completed in 1984. It contains a staff room, the McElligott Theatre and classrooms. In 1999 the Br. Grundy Visual & Performing Arts Centre was completed. It contains teaching and practice spaces for the arts.
In 2009, two new Drama classrooms and a Dance Studio were added to the Edmund Rice Building along with a Tuckshop, Uniform Shop and Band Room on the Ground Floor. A shared multilevel car park (complete with synthetic playing field on the top level) and a 1500 seat auditorium (the Edmund Rice Performing Arts Centre) were completed in 2010. The College Administration also moved into the Monastery in 2010, the last Brothers having moved out in 2009.
Camp Laurence on Moogerah Dam was completed in 1977 as an outdoor recreational and educational extension to the campus at South Brisbane.
The College acquired property at Runcorn in 1961 to extend its sporting facilities. This property now boasts eight playing fields, change rooms and the Br Ryan Centre.
In 1994 a College Board was established to act in an advisory capacity to the Principal. From 1996, the Christian Brothers appointed the first lay principal, Mr D Frederiksen, while still retaining the ownership and control of the College.
In 2001 Mr Ian McDonald was appointed as Principal, serving 15 years in the position. During his time at the Lauries, Mr McDonald developed many enrichment programs including Gifted and Talented, introduced many overseas immersions and tours for students and worked closely with designers and builders to produce state-of-the-art facilities we now have on the hill at the College, including The St Laurence’s College Chapel, Gair Field redevelopment and The Edmund Rice Performing Arts Centre (ERPAC), to name a few. In 2017 the STEM building was completed and named the Ian McDonald STEM building, in honour of Principal Ian McDonald.
In 2017, Mr Chris Leadbetter was appointed to the role of Principal at St Laurence’s College.Next