St Mary’s had been a boarding school since 1888, and the decision to close boarding in 1997 had not been taken lightly. That decision turns out to be a blessing in disguise as the break with the past also means a break from a style of boarding that has lost popularity, and a move some years later to home-from-home type facilities.
Burn Street House, an adjacent property and house bought by the school in the 1990s, is the first building opened to eight boarders, and its incorporation extends the size of the school property. Several more will be made available in the next few years. A second boarding house is opened when the school purchases a house in Murray Street with a swimming pool and tennis court, but this is sold a few years later. Mitchell House, named after the outgoing Chairman of the Board, Mr David Mitchell, opens in 2006 and the school also converts a house in Burn Street into Mackenzie House.
The boarding houses accommodate girls from all around the world: Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, China, Russia, Korea, Japan, the US and the UK.