BGS’ association with boarding dates back to its opening in 1869. Homestay arrangements were offered by teachers, with the rare surviving example of a row of attached cottages on Petrie Terrace, housing some of the first boarders. Second Master Donald Cameron rented one of these four cottages and was paid a fee by the School for accommodating up to 11 boarders here in homestay arrangements.
Third Master Frances Keogh also took in boarders at his premises on Wickham Terrace from 1871.
The Petrie Terrace cottages were built by Queen Street chemist, grocer and developer William John Costin in 1863, and originally known as ‘Costin’s Cottages’. Costin’s son, William, attended Brisbane Grammar School from 1875 to 1879.
Homestay accommodation for boarders proved to be unsatisfactory in the longer term and this practice changed after the School relocated from Roma Street to its new premises on Gregory Terrace in 1881. Headmaster Reginald Roe identified a purpose-built boarding house as a top priority. Known as School House, it opened in 1887 and grew to 90 boarders during WWII. Stretched beyond capacity to 110 boys during the mid-1950s, an extra 20 places were created when the Headmaster and his family moved into the new and separate headmaster’s residence in 1962.
In 1969 a dining room opened on the ground floor of the Centenary Building underneath the library, and old boarding house kitchens were converted to bathrooms. Boys moved into the newly built Harlin House in 1972, and the original boarding house was renovated to provide student common rooms, a housemaster’s flat, matron’s quarters, and an enlarged sickbay. Numbers peaked at 175 in 1989. In 1992 the original boarding house was renovated and renamed the Roe Building. At the same time, Harlin House was renovated and modernised.
BGS boarding continues to develop its facilities to improve the experience for students. The dining room and kitchen were relocated again in 2013, to the ground floor of the S.W. Griffith building. and a senior common room was completed earlier this year. The senior common room offers a flexible and spacious area for shared learning and private tutoring.