The Grammar Schools Act 1860 enabled funding for secondary education in Queensland. By 1868, enthusiastic public subscribers had raised enough money to the establish Brisbane's first Grammar School and first independent boys school. In that same year, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, laid the foundation stone at Brisbane Grammar School's original site in Roma Street.
The new school opened in February 1869 with 94 students and four masters under the leadership of Headmaster Thomas Harlin. In 1881, the School was moved to its present site and the magnificent neo-gothic style Great Hall and classrooms were opened that year. With the opening of the Boarding House in 1886, the School became one of the first to provide student boarding facilities on site. State-of-the-art science laboratories were built in 1912.
The School consistently anticipated educational needs, providing a resource library and language laboratory in 1968, before Commonwealth funding made them standard school facilities. With the purchase of the former Primary Correspondence School in 1993 at the School's southern boundary, BGS grew to accommodate 1200 students. In 2003, the Middle School opened for Years 6 and 7 and 1400 students were attending the School.
Two important and impressive sporting facilities now complement the Spring Hill campus: The Northgate Playing Fields opened in 1997 and the Indoor Sports Centre in 2000. In 2010, the School opened The Lilley Centre, which combines technology and flexible learning spaces with a well-resourced library and programs to help students navigate their learning. Also in 2010, the Centenary Building was refurbished to provide similar learning spaces for Middle School students.