The History of Queen Margaret College

Queen Margaret College

The land that is currently occupied by the school was previously occupied by Māori from the Pipitea Marae. In 1873 William Clayton built a house which was the first house to be made of concrete and with hot and cold running water.

Katherine Mansfield described Wellington at the time,
"It is a small town, planted at the edge of a fine deep harbour like a lake. Behind it, on either side there are hills. The houses are built of light painted wood. They have iron roofs, coloured red. And there are dark, plumy trees massed together."

Thomas Williams then later bought the house for £1200.

Extensive additions made by Mr Williams included all the wooden part to the east of the concrete house, and the tower in order to see the fine view. The circular staircase to the tower roof is quite unusual construction, built as it is wholly of wood. The building had other special features of design and workmanship – clerestory light from the raised portion of the roof above the gallery; arched windows, edged with bands of rich red glass, in the side entrance lobby and halfway up the stairs; the restrained decoration of plaster cornices, and medallions on the high ceilings; the hand turned balustrade and the large door handles of amber, cut crystal( removed long since). Wood was carefully chosen to enhance the general design – solid kauri for doors of offset with mottled kauri panels and trimmed with Australian black wood.

The open balconies have been closed to become part of the classrooms. Similarly all the large open fireplaces have been closed up for safety. The building eventually became an earthquake risk as the plaster began to fall off the walls. Since then it has been used for storage and is closed to all students except for year 13 leavers on their last day when they sign their names on the walls.

QMC opened on Tuesday 19th of February 1919 with 53 students,
'To provide girls a sound of intellectual and moral education ... to produce the best type of girlhood and womanhood.'

The school has grown to 690 students from Preps to year 13 and employs 90 staff.

Today the following rooms remain:
Billiard room – office
Smoking room – bursar's room
Fernery – offices
Bedrooms – classrooms
Bathroom – heads of departments' office
Bedrooms – deputy principals' office

85 years later Queen Margaret College's mission statement reflects a changing world but retains the same values as when the Tower Block housed only fifty three pupils.
'Within an inclusive Christian environment, we light the flame of learning: through a holistic education our girls become confident, principled woman who make a difference in the modern world.'