As settlements began to grow in the region residents called for the erection of a public hall – referred to as a ‘School of Arts Hall’ to provide the town with a place of amusement and a place for meetings to be held. The School of Arts served the residents as a centre of social and community activities; it was a venue for dances, weddings, parties, Queen Competitions, picture shows, boxing contests and music concerts. One of the main aims of a School of Arts was to provide a library.
The Beerburrum School of Arts hall was built in 1915 and the library opened there in September 1917. The newly built hall became the hub of social life for the small community particularly at Christmas time when the communal Christmas tree became the focus for soldier settlers and their families to celebrate together.
In 1915 the Beerwah School of Arts was opened by Hon W H Barnes, the State Treasurer. Mr J D Story, Under-secretary for Public Instruction, in his speech remarked the one reason why Schools of Arts flourished was that they were not controlled by an Act of Parliament. The people raised the money and got 10 shillings in the pound subsidy. They were an institution of a most useful sort, whose wide cosmopolitanism was an advantage. Political, religious and other sectional matters could be dropped and people could meet in this special place, free of those troubles.
The Landsborough School of Arts was constructed in 1924 on land donated by Mr John Tytherleigh and was built as a memorial to the Service personnel of the district from World War I. Landsborough was behind other towns in establishing a school of arts however once the decision was made, the community worked tirelessly to raise funds. In just over three months, a third of the cost had been raised.
The hall was officially opened by the Lieut. Governor Hon Wm Lennon. Mr Lennon remarked “the building was an ornament to the town and an institution which would be useful as it not only served the purpose of a memorial but provided opportunities for the people of the town, especially the younger ones, to secure a wholesome and useful experience and a place where they have healthy enjoyment.”
Over the years many of the School of Arts halls have been adapted to meet changing conditions and many continue to have strong social and cultural significance for local residents and those in the surrounding district. They have been the places of much laughter, sorrow, robust discourse and above all fellowship within the communities.
Thanks to the Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library staff for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.