History and Archives | Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar School

History and Archives

Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School was established by Miss Frances Lowe in July 1903 as Cooerwull, a private school. Ivanhoe at that time was semi-rural, on the very outer north eastern fringes of Melbourne. By the end of 1903, Miss Lowe had six pupils, which increased to 36 by 1907. She took in boys and also had boarders. One family from St Kilda sent their children to Cooerwull for the ‘sake of the fresh country air’. Miss Frances Lowe was a progressive educationalist. She encouraged her girls to study science, offered three languages and was a pioneer in new educational techniques. The School was located in the house on the corner of Marshall Street and Sherwood Road (opposite the present Junior School). As student numbers increased, so did the demand for space and, in 1907, the School moved to its current location when Miss Lowe purchased an old Victorian house called Hillsley on the current site of the School gymnasium.

1903 - Frances Lowe with the first pupils of Cooerwull School

A kindergarten, called Girton, was established in St James’ Church hall for both boys and girls. Miss Lowe took over this kindergarten in 1920 and it was run by the School until the early 1960s.

Miss Lowe, a member of the St James’ Church, sold the School to the Vestry of St James’ in May 1922 and the School became Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School from the beginning of 1923. At that time the School had 98 students and was located in the original School house in Noel Street.

The first new building was constructed in 1929 at the corner of Noel Street and Upper Heidelberg Road.


1930s - The School House                                            Current Administration Building at 123 Marshall Street

The School gradually acquired more property as numbers of students increased and there was a major period of expansion in the 1970s.

From the mid 1980s there has been considerable redevelopment of the School property to provide improved facilities. The John Shilliday Physical Education Centre with its gymnasium and indoor swimming pool, the Doris Walker Centre with the Frances Lowe Library and VCE Centre, the Performing Arts Centre and the Cooerwull Science laboratories provide outstanding facilities for learning.

The Cooerwull Centre, opened in 2010 by Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, was the biggest building project ever undertaken in the School’s history. It incorporates a new Library with Senior and Junior School areas, ICT and audiovisual departments, Staff Centre, a Café for students and Staff and a terraced recreational area.

The Junior School was relocated from the corner of Noel Street and Upper Heidelberg Road to its current site in three Edwardian houses in Marshall Street in 1981. In 2011 Sharwood House was re-opened after extensive renovations which provided teaching spaces, a central Atrium area and excellent new outdoor sporting facilities and play spaces.

The Doris Walker Centre was redesigned again in 2015. It currently houses the VCE Student Centres, a state-of-the-art Lecture Theatre and flexible general purpose learning spaces.

The Performing Arts Centre was built in 1995 on the corner of Upper Heidelberg Road and Noel Street. St James’ House Early Learning Centre was opened in 1998 for girls aged 3 to 5 years. Hillsley - the former Knox Presbyterian Church was opened at the end of 2001 and is our Visual Arts and Health and Hospitality complex.

Principals of the School:

  • Miss Frances Lowe 1903 - 1922
  • Miss Agnes Bevington 1923 - 1926
  • Miss Katherine Bedford 1927
  • Miss Sydney Knox 1928
  • Miss Doris Walker 1929 - 1963
  • Miss Elizabeth Pike 1963 - 1968
  • Miss Marian Beers 1969 - 1970
  • Mr Glyn France 1971 - 1977
  • Mr John Shilliday 1977 - 1990
  • Mrs Judith McCowan 1991 - 1997
  • Dr Heather Schnagl AM 1998 -

The School crest incorporates the Anglican mitre in common with other Anglican schools. The School motto is Lux Mea Christus - Christ My Light. The crest also incorporates the lamp to reflect this motto. The Golden Mitre refers to the mitre in the School crest and the gold and brown School colours. 

1924 - The School

Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar School

123 Marshall Street
Ivanhoe Victoria 3079

Telephone: + 61 3 9490 6222
Facsimile: + 61 3 9490 6200
Email: iggs@ivanhoegirls.vic.edu.au
ABN 77 004 098 748