St Mary's College is a Catholic girls' school established in 1868 by the Presentation Order, which was founded in Ireland to educate poor and disadvantaged children, especially girls. In 1866, Bishop Murphy appealed to his sister, Superior of the Presentation Convent in Fermoy, to assist him by opening a catholic school in Harrington St, Hobart. Mother Murphy and a small group of nuns arrived in 1866. In 1868 Mount St Mary's (as the school was known) received its first pupils, including boys and boarders.
The fine sandstone convent building was designed to “sit astride a grassy rise” by the convict architect, Henry Hunter. Originally there were two schools on the present-day campus - St Columba's (a free primary school for the poorer community) and Mt St Mary's. The two were eventually merged. Although it is primarily an all-girls school, until the opening of St Virgil's College in 1911 on the block behind St Mary's, the college catered for boys in senior grades as well.
The College continued to develop on its prominent site next to St Mary's Cathedral, the boarding house closing in 1971. Today, St Mary's College embodies the special charisma of its founding Sisters in offering a faith-oriented quality education to girls from kindergarten to Grade 12, with boys from kindergarten to Grade 2. St Mary's College is still administered by the Presentation Sisters, with lay principals from 1999. The original convent and school-rooms are still on-site today.
A respected and flourishing educational institution, St Mary’s College has nurtured the spiritual, cultural, academic and sporting lives of many thousands of Tasmanian students in three different centuries. The convent building is in immaculate condition and beautifully situated, easily visible as you drive along Harrington St, nestled next to St Mary’s Cathedral. It is truly a beautiful example of mid 19th century architecture.