The former St. Malachy’s School sits at the corner of Sussex Place and Rathbone Street within Belfast’s Linen Conservation Area. The building was designed by Timothy Hevey between 1877 – 1878 for the Sisters of the Convent of Mercy. It is a two storey red brick venetian Gothic styled building with a three storey tower. The building was B1 listed in March 1988 (Ref: HB26/30/024 B).
The school opened on 24th September 1878, two months before the death of the architect Timothy Hevey. The construction was funded by Matthew Bowen, who was the proprietor of the Royal Hotel in Donegall Place. The school was originally named after Bowen – The Bowen School for Young Ladies. Following the partition of Ireland in 1921 the school no longer operated under the National School System and was renamed St Malachy’s Convent Public Elementary School. The school continued to operate under the supervision of the Sisters of Mercy until closing on 23rd June 1987.
The building lay vacant until being purchased by the Belfast Buildings Trust, with assistance through an Architectural Heritage Fund acquisition loan in 2006. The Trust carried out holding repairs on the building and announced their intention to restore the building and identify a new use.
A planning application submitted in March 2013 (Z/2013/0300/LBC) by the Belfast Buildings Trust and Hall Black Douglas Architects proposed to convert building to community / cultural use with ancillary office space and extensions to side of building. The application was withdrawn by the agent in November 2013.
The Trust announced in June 2014 that fundraising was underway to restore the building and that a partnership has been established with ArtsEkta. The building was proposed to become ArtsEkta’s office alongside space for performance, training and workshops and Consular space for migrant communities. Subject to funding, the project was expected to be on site during autumn 2015.
The building was placed on the market by Savills in April 2015 inviting offers in the region of £550,000.
The building sold during autumn 2017.
Xafinity Pension Trustees Ltd submitted a planning application (LA04/2020/0844/F) in May 2020 proposing to convert the former schoolhouse to cafe and office use and convert and extend the the former warehouse to provide 8no. apartments.