On top of a hill in Auchenflower, there is a horse stable surrounded by gardens, where forty children gather to learn.
Randall MacDonnell was born in Dublin and trained there as a teacher. In 1854, he immigrated to Sydney and established a private school. In 1860, he moved to Queensland where, for the remaining 17 years of his short life, his advocacy for improved education for the State’s children was most significant. MacDonnell was appointed General Inspector of Primary Schools in 1860, and Secretary to the Board of General Education in 1870. In 1875, he became the first General Inspector of the newly established Department of Public Instruction, and held that position until he died of tuberculosis the following year.
The Horse Stable
The horse stable on top of the hill in Wienholt Street in Auchenflower, was built as the original stable of Randall MacDonnell’s great Rathdonnell Estate. A neighbouring estate called Auchenflower, meaning “field of flowers”, later gave its name to the area.
Auchenflower Presbyterian Church
Rathdonnell Estate was sold and subdivided in 1911, and by 1913, the church was established in the stables of Rathdonnell House. A front portico was added to the stone-based stables, which gave the building an ecclesiastical tone, and the windows were replaced with rippled magenta and green panels.
The stable became the church hall when a newly built wooden church was built further toward the front of the property, for the Auchenflower Presbyterian Church.
Montessori Children’s House
The church hall became available for lease for educational purposes. Thus was established the Montessori Children’s House – a preschool and kindergarten of great significance, not only in the history of education but also in the unending quest to find an appropriate education which might lead to optimal personal fulfilment in later life, and to world peace and understanding.
Montessori Infants’ House
A Playgroup had been set up in the church next door. In July 2005, the Playgroup was brought under the umbrella of the Children’s House and it is called the Montessori Infant’s House (MIH). The Infants’ House is now open to parents and children, five mornings a week.
The Children’s House provides a Montessori approach to education for 44 children, all in the 3 to 5 year old Cycle One of the Montessori program. The Children’s House is a community-based kindergarten affiliated with Lady Gowrie, Queensland.
We hope that the Montessori Children’s House can continue to contribute to the rich history of both the building that has stood on this site since 1865, and the dream – of excellent children’s education – of the man who built it there.
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