The former school building was the first purpose-built government school for the district of Katanning with construction start in 1894. It was also one of the earliest permanent structures in the town still existing today.
Although it was only used for a relatively short time, it illustrates the growing population in Katanning after the railway was established, and the need to service the increasing number of children now being brought up in the area.
In 1969 it was converted to an historical museum which it remains today (2017).
The first school classes were held in the former refreshment room at the railway station in 1890 under the supervision of Mary Bell. However, it was not long before a purpose-built school was needed. The land for the Katanning Government School was gazetted for such purposes on 10th August 1894. Tenders had already been called for the erection of the school building with the successful contractors being Messrs. Beetham, Tilling and Harrison.
The building was constructed of brick and jarrah, and made provision for the accommodation of forty scholars. However, even before its completion, there was some criticism in the newspapers of its size:
In everything, excepting size, the building is suitable, but seeing that the present school-roll is over thirty, it might have been fairly expected that some provision would have been made for the natural and inevitable increase. [WA,27/08/1894,p.7]
Although there were many delays with materials, etc., the building was completed well within the contracted time. The new schoolroom was described as:
A lofty chamber 30ft x 20ft, well ventilated by five windows, three of which look up Clive-land and the railway, while each end of the room contains another considerably larger than these in front, all being provided with Venetian blinds. Two doors, one at each end of the rear wall, give entrance, and against the rear wall are also built two small rooms to be used as lavatories and cloak rooms, the entrance to them being from the same projecting porch roof at each corner of the building that the school doors open upon. A large tank indicates provision for a liberal water supply, while the external arrangements are complete in every detail. The whole is surrounded by a substantial fence of sawn timber and wire. An extra finish has been given to the interior by a coat of kalsomine, and altogether the school which provides ample accommodation for upwards of 60 pupils, is a distinct and useful addition to the public buildings of the town, and will be devoted to its intended use some time during the coming month. [WA, 26/9/1894, p.6]
The school, was completed in September 1894, for a cost of £483 and £31.6s.8d. “Was paid in back rent and repair of damages.” [Rikkers ] The first teacher was Ms Frances Williams, her class consisting of 15 boys and 18 girls. After about eight years the school could no longer cope with the increase in students and so the building was utilised as a kindergarten and also as a domestic science classroom.
The original school building has undergone some modifications according to its changing needs. Its construction is brick walls with a corrugated iron roof. The white external walls were not originally painted. There is a verandah on the northwest corner of the building, which was the main entry.