Maryknoll school celebrates listing of its historic campus

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 January, 2008, 12:00am

Kowloon Tong's Maryknoll Convent School building will join the government's list of declared monuments.

Development Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced yesterday that the Antiquities Advisory Board supported the school's initiative that the historic campus should be declared a monument.

She said visits to the school had shown the campus was well-maintained, adding that the government would provide financial support for its preservation.

The historic girls' school welcomed the government's decision.

'We welcome the government's proposal to declare the Maryknoll Convent School building as a monument,' said Sister Jeanne Houlihan, chairwoman of the Maryknoll Convent School Foundation Council. 'It has been a grade three historic building since 1992. We have just celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2007.'

Helen Yu Lai Ching-ping, one of the vice-chairwomen of the Maryknoll Convent School Foundation, said that she was thrilled and delighted with the news.

'We love our school and we are very proud, not just of the building,' said Mrs Yu, who attended Maryknoll between 1952 and 1962, from Primary Four to matriculation. She said that her two younger sisters also attended the school.

Mrs Yu said she did not think it had taken the government too long to decide to declare the school building a monument.

'In deciding in whether to declare a monument, I understand that there are lots of considerations,' she said. 'But whether it has taken too long, we are just pleased. We appreciate that the government is doing this.'

The Maryknoll Convent School building was modelled after the Maryknoll Motherhouse in New York. The eye-catching building features elaborate brickwork and incorporates various architectural styles - ranging from art deco to neo-Georgian and Gothic revival.

The school consists of four different parts. The oldest is the primary section, which was built in 1937. The convent right next to it was completed in 1953.

The old wing and new wing of the secondary section were built in 1944 and 1960.

The building's distinctive style made the school a popular location for television ads and dramas.

In 1925, the Maryknoll sisters, who came from the United States to preach, established the Maryknoll Convent School in a small community room of their convent in Austin Road with 12 students.

The school then expanded, and in 1937 the construction of the school building located at Waterloo Road and Boundary Street was completed. The school provided education to students from kindergarten to matriculation.

The school building was taken over and used as a military hospital during the Japanese occupation.