Categories of Special Interest
SS Micheal & John Girl's School
Heritage centre/interpretative centre
In Use As
1865 - 1870
Attached ten-bay two-storey former school, built 1866, having triple arrangement of gabled breakfronts to front (south) elevation. Now in use as acting school. Pitched slate roofs, set perpendicular to street, with cut granite coping to verges having carved granite kneelers. Brown brick walls laid in Flemish bond with cut granite quoins, recent yellow brick walls laid in stretcher bond to side (east and west) and rear (north) elevations, relieving arch to each gable of rear walls. Square-headed window openings flanking round-headed window openings to each gable to first floor, segmental-headed window openings to recessed bays, cut granite sills and six-over-six pane timber sliding sash windows. Segmental-headed window openings to ground floor having recent timber framed windows with overlights and metal aprons, some having timber framed doors to lower section. Segmental-headed door opening with carved granite double bull-nosed surround on plinth blocks, recent glazed timber doors, cut granite step. Recent stone steps and entrance platforms with metal balustrades to recent entrances to east end gable. Recent metal and glass enclosed bridge attached to west elevation at first floor level, connecting to Smock Alley Theatre. Situated on north side and east end of Essex Street West.
This former girls' school retains its early form and some historic fabric to its brickwork and granite detailing, which contribute to the traditional character of the composition. The vertical emphasis to the front elevation, achieved through the gable-fronted breakfronts, break down the form of the building to a scale suited to the character of Essex Street. It is one of a number of nineteenth-century buildings in the vicinity associated with the former Catholic Church of Saints Michael and John, now Smock Alley Theatre. The church, built in 1812, had an significant impact on the surrounding built environment, with the construction of two associated schools and a presbytery, as well as a social impact as reportedly the first since the Reformation to have a bell rung for mass and angelus, with consequent threats of legal action successfully countered by Daniel O'Connell. Essex Street was opened in 1674 and divided into east and west in the early 1760s, and Essex Street West was originally named Smock Alley. The school was built on the site of four former buildings including a grocer, two tenements and a dairy.