Historic Dan O’Connell Hotel to become alternative primary school

After paying more than $3.2 million to purchase Carlton’s historic Dan O’Connell Hotel, Fitzroy Community School (FCS) will be taking over the space.

The double-storey Irish pub was purchased on October 30 and will soon be transformed into a school for more than 100 students.   

Fitzroy Community School principal Tim Berryman said the planning application had been submitted and works would be underway shortly.

“It’s still in the pipeline but we plan to open at the start of the school year in 2023,” Mr Berryman said.

Fitzroy Community School was established in 1976 and already has schools in Fitzroy North and Thornbury.

But Mr Berryman said the demand for another school was there and the Dan O’Connell would be the perfect site.

“There are more families applying to live within the City of Melbourne and even the CBD so the Dan will be really convenient for them to get to,” Mr Berryman said.

As one of Melbourne’s oldest pubs, Mr Berryman said that FCS would be preserving both the exterior and interior of the historic 136-year-old building.

“We’re absolutely planning to keep the original building, inside and out. We’re not even removing the old signage,” Mr Berryman said.

“The kids are going to be going to school in the original Dan O’Connell.”

Much like its Brunswick St campus which is based in a building constructed in the 1800s, FCS plans to work around the original room structure and keep the features which make the building distinctive.

“Old buildings have a charm to them that new buildings don’t, particularly ones which have evolved their use over time,” Mr Berryman said.

“We want to keep that gentle softness the space has, brick walls and everything.”

FCS plans to create a designated drop off-zone for parents and will have limited onsite parking.

Mr Berryman said the conversion of the building from a pub to a primary school would mean locals would no longer have to fight for parking spaces in the area.

“Parking for locals will be hugely improved because a primary school doesn’t require a lot of parking spaces,” Mr Berryman said.

“There really couldn’t have been a better site for our new school.” •

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