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School of Arts


The Presidents of the Cooma School of Arts, from its formation in 1876 to the end of 1925, are given below in alphabetical order:
Amess, W., 1900, 1901, 1902.
Backhouse, E. B., 1898.
Beazley, J. G., 1879, 1882, 1886, 1891,.
Birch, R., 1878.
Dawson, R., 1877.
Faulkner, T. W , 1896.
Gomm, E. T. F., 1903, 1903-'4.
Harvison, Dr. W. S., 1897, 1899.
Hewison, E., 1891-1894.
Madgwick, W. M., 1895.
Ord, G. W., 1904-5, 1910-11.
Perkins, J. A., 1910-'If, 1922-'24.
Rose, A. F., 1924-'25; still in office.
Solomon, C., 1880, 1881, 1883-'5.

Richard Andrews was appointed caretaker on Ist September, 1887, and carried on until April, 1892. He was reappointed in February, 1893, and held the position till September, 1904, when he resigned, the vacancy being filled by the appointment of E. J. Geoghegan, who is still in office.

The School of Arts, now situated in Vale Street, was founded some time in the year 1876, under the Presidency of Mr. G. Y. Mould, with Mr. A. Gale as Hon. Treasurer, and Mr. G. T. C. Miller, afterwards for so many years Cooma's Parliamentary representative, Hon. Secretary. After its establishment the Committee carried on in a room in a building situate in what was then locally known as "Dirty Lane," where once existed an hotel known as The White Horse. Part of the hotel walls still may be seen at the back of Mr. Montague's offices. The rental paid was 10 per annum. From "Dirty Lane" a move was made to other premises, situated where the garage of the Commercial Bank stands to-day. Early in its history it was decided by the Committee, as a matter of policy, that the Institute should be conducted in premises owned by it, For this purpose a building fund was started, the subsidy thereto for the period 1st January - 31st December, 1877, amounting to 200. In augumentation of this fund an art union was promoted, the first ten prizes, headed by a double seated buggy, valued at 50, aggregating 127 l0s. Fifty other prizes were offered, the tickets being 5/- each. The drawing was advertised for 28th February, 1878.

The Committee made rapid progress, and in 1880 had received from Mr. Charles Solomon, a gift of a block of land, and had let to Mr. Emanuel Reed, a contract for the erection of a hall thereon for 1600. In 1881 it was found necessary to acquire further land, and an additional 6 feet was secured from Mr. Solomon for 27. A Committee consisting of Messrs. J. E. P. Walker, G. W. Spring and Brennan, with Mr. E. P. Margoschis as Hon. Sec., was constituted to arrange for the opening ceremony of the new hall, which took place in 1881.

In 1882 the Municipal Council, which had not long been in existence, met in the hall, but leaving at short notice in 1883, a law suit nearly ensued.

A Librarian had been appointed, and by donations and purchases a library was gradually built up.

In 1886 an additional room at the back of the hall was erected at a cost of 125 3s 6d, the contractor being Mr. T. Plackett, and in the same year an additional 20 feet of land at the rear of that already owned, was donated by Mr. Charles Solomon, who, in 1887, was elected a life member in appreciation of generous assistance over the existence of the institution.

The first trustees were Messrs. Robert Dawson. William Jardine, and James Litchfield, the former being Cooma's first Police Magistrate, and the two latter prominent squatters.

In 1895 a suggestion for the purchase of a billiard table was made, but was not carried into effect.

In 1902 it was realised that the membership, which was at a very low ebb, would probably be largely increased if the building were more centrally situated, and negotiations were opened with the Grand United Order of Oddfellows with a view to sale. A referendum of members resulted in an almost unanimous vote for disposal.

The year 1903 saw the dawn of a new era. In that year the Cooma Literary and Debating Society and Gymnastic Club, composed principally of a number of young men, several of whom in later years evidenced admirable civic qualities, amalgamated with the School of Arts. The result was an immediate change of administration, policy and officers. One of the direct consequences was the formation of the Cooma Billiard Club, which. by arrangement, purchased and erected a billiard table in the reading room of the School of Arts. The innovation was an unqualified and instant success. The number of members was increased sixfold. Following upon increasing popularity there came greater revenue, the hall was renovated at a cost of 28 10s, and an acetylene gas plant was installed at a cost of 56 3s.

In 1905 Messrs. E. P. Margoschis, D. Jeffrey, and J. H. Montague, were appointed trustees, Mr. Dawson having died in 1901, Mr. Jardine in 1904, whilst Mr. Litchfield resigned in 1903. In 1904-'5. in view of the growth of the Cooma Billiard Club, a building capable of holding two tables was erected by H. Bray, at a cost of 133, whilst the convenience of members was further studied by the installation of a telephone service.

In 1906-'7 the library, which had been housed in book cases, was sufficiently large to warrant the erection, under contract by Mr. A. Mawson, of special shelves. In the same year an extra 36ft 6in of land was acquired from Mr. Solomon.

In 1908 the billiard room was still further extended, a third table being purchased. In that year also consideration was given to the erection of a new hall, plans for which were submitted by Mr. G. D. Cochran, architect.

In 1911 - '12 moving pictures were shewn in the hall for the first time by the Victor Picture Co. In March and April, 1912, the building debt haveing been wiped out, statutory meetings authorised the purchase of land in Vale Street (originally part of the Dawson Estate), from Mr. E. G. Hattersley, for the purpose of erecting new buildings thereon. The existing hall and fittings were, at that time, valued at 1504.

The Vale Street purchase was completed with but little delay, and the tender of Mr. A. Mawson for the erection of new library, reading room, and billiard room for 998 was accepted, and work started. The old buildings were at this time connected up with the town water supply.

A loan was obtained for the purpose of the new buildings,, which were opened in November, 1913, by the then Mayor, Alderman J. H. Montague, the building debt at the time standing at 1344 17s.

In 1916-17 statutory meetings authorised the sale by auction of the hall in Bombala Street, which was in the following year sold to Mr. A. H. Balmain for 650. Mr. Balmain used the hall for the purposes of a picture show, the rights for which were afterwards acquired by Mr. G. Levy. The hall was at a later date largely altered, and is an up-to-date theatre.

"BACK TO COOMA" Felix Mitchell 1926 Page 106 - Transcribed by Pattrick Mould 2003



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