ORIGINAL AND PRIMARY SCHOOLS:
J W H & J M Hay of Liverpool, 1854-6; Handyside Ritchie sculptor: primary school extension to SW, McLuckie & Walker, 1905: converted to hotel 1990. Single and 2-storey, 12-bay with 3-bay extension, Gothic style former school with vaulted pend tower and cloister features to courtyard. Stugged squared and snecked whin rubble with contrasting ashlar dressings. Deep chamfered base course and eaves course. Coped and battered buttresses; hodmoulds, moulded arrises, stone transoms and mullions.
NW (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: symmetrical. Centre bay with square-plan tower (see below); bay to left of centre with 6-light transomed tripartite window and small slate-hung timber dormer window with decorative bargeboarding and thistle finial. Lower eaves line to bays 2 to 6, battered chimney breast to centre with ropework-moulded panel breaking eaves into truncated stack with shield detail, flanking bays with 4-light transomed bipartite windows breaking eaves into dormerheads with shield detail on tympanum. Advanced, gabled bay to outer left with 2 4-light transomed bipartite windows to ground and hoodmoulded, 6-light, raised centre tripartite window in gablehead. Bays to right of centre mirror those to left except that to advanced gabled bay with 3 windows (similarly detailed) to ground.
3-bay primary school extension to right: slightly advanced centre bay with rounded angles, altered tripartite window to ground, corbelled transomed bipartite window to 1st floor and corbelled mock parapet over with arrowslit to centre and pyramidal roof: return to left with steps up to deeply concave moulded doorpiece with cusping below semicircular pediment inscribed 'PRIMARY HIGH SCHOOL' and dated 'MCMVIII' below monogrammed shield; 2-leaf panelled timber door. Recessed bay to left with 4-part windows to ground and 1st floor with richly carved dividing panels bearing scholastic emblems, elaborate cartouche to centre above breaking eaves to recessed attic floor with semicircular-pedimented bipartite window and small window to right. Tall gabled bay to right of centre with 2 4-light transomed bipartite windows to each floor.
TOWER: deeply moulded, keystoned and hoodmoulded four-centred pend arch with 2-leaf boarded timber gates with scrollwork iron hinges, 2-storey oriel window over with panel below 1st floor cill inscribed 'ANNO DOMINI 1854' and large circular stone panel between 6-light transomed tripartite windows to 1st and 2nd floors, cavetto cornice above giving way to sculpture of children. Each face
above 2nd floor with narrow timber-louvered opening below stepped continuous hoodmould and clock face with flanking moulded pilasters breaking eaves into attenuated finialled dormerhead; pyramidal roof and small corbelled turret to each angle.
SW ELEVATION: on ground falling steeply to S, asymmetrical fenestration with late 17th century inscribed panel commemorating Robert Spittal and bearing date 1530 built into wall to outer left, and gabled bay to outer right.
SE (COURTYARD) ELEVATION: symmetrical, 11-bay. 3 bays to centre with moulded 4-centred arch flanked by 4-light transomed bipartite windows and 3 timber dormers (see above) in steeply pitched roof with tower projecting to centre. Lower, similarly arched, arcaded outer bays (now glazed) with dividing buttresses, deep blocking course and tiny triangular air vents close to roof ridge with pagoda-style ridge ventilator (1 to each side).
NE (COURTYARD) ELEVATION: 3 arcaded bays to centre (glazed) with tall transomed bipartite windows over breaking eaves into finialled dormerheads. Taller bay to outer right with small window to ground and 4-light transomed bipartite over, N range adjoining beyond. Lower, recessed extension to outer left.
Primary school extension with variety of elements including rounded angle to outer left, and polygonal belfry rising from recessed and partly obscured gabled bay.
Mainly 3-pane and plate glass glazing patterns in timber windows. Some 8-pane glazing pattern in timber sash and case windows retained to primary school extension. Grey slates. Coped ashlar stacks (some truncated), ashlar coped stepped skews with moulded skewputts and cast-iron downpipes with hoppers dated 1854.
INTERIOR: some boarded timber dadoes retained. MacLaren Room with decorative cornice and hammerbeam roof. Classrooms to N range converted to small conference rooms. W range converted to gymnasium and swimming pool.
James Marjoribanks MacLaren (London), 1887-90, completed by Robert Watson; converted to hotel 1990. 3-storey with 2-storey courtyard, 9-bay with 3 additional bays (original Academy Street building), rectangular-plan former school forming NE side of courtyard, on ground falling steeply to SE. Late Scots Gothic/early Renaissance style of outstanding merit with copper-domed observatory tower and incorporating late 16th - early 17th century doorpiece. Squared and snecked whin rubble with sandstone dressings to 1st and 2nd floor over stugged ashlar ground floor. Moulded dividing courses and decorative eaves course. Corbels; deeply chamfered arrises, stone transoms and mullions.
SE TOWER: 3-stage, square-plan tower with engaged round tower (see below) to W angle and lower tower with caphouse to NW. 1st stage SE with 16th century arch with diamond-faceted pilasters, strapwork capitals, carved voussoirs and drop-keystone with decorative wrought-iron gates, the whole set into elaborate doorway with carved zodiac panels flanking cusped basket arch with 2 small windows between 2 further carved panels and inscribed 'HIGH SCHOOL' '1888'. SW elevation with window to left and banded stonework higher up with small bipartite window to centre. 2nd stage: SE elevation with 2 transomed bipartite windows to each of 3 floors. SW elevation with small bipartite window at 3rd floor. 3rd stage with crenellated parapet on foliated carved corbels to each elevation, and 4th stage with green-domed revolving observatory.
ROUND (W) TOWER: SE elevation with blind rubble 1st stage; 2nd stage with 6-light transomed bipartite window to 1st floor, 3-light transomed window to 2nd floor and 2-light transomed window to 3rd floor. Polygonal stage above with small window to SE, crenellated parapet incorporated into that of square tower, and polygonal caphouse.
NE (SPITTAL STREET) ELEVATION: 9 bays to left with tower (see above) to outer left, 8-light canted oriel window to 1st and 2nd floors at outer right with carved frieze to 1st floor windowhead, thistle detail over centre of 2nd floor windowhead and glazed trefoil in recessed carved pediment breaking eaves above. Bays 2 to 8 at 1st and 2nd floors with regular fenestration, 1st floor windows transomed and mullioned; bays 3, 4 and 5 at 2nd floor with oversize 4-light transomed windows with carved windowheads breaking eaves into elaborately carved and finialled semicircular dormerheads and with
flanking decorative animal gargoyles: bays beyond to right with shallow bipartite windows, richly carved panel between bays 5 and 6. Canted corner to outer left (adjoining recessed tower) with sculpted female figure in large decorative niche.
Bays to outer right (original building) with slightly recessed tower to left, narrow lights to 1st and 2nd floor and polygonal belfry with finialled, stone slab roof; 2 windows flanking chimney breast to 1st and 2nd floors of bays to centre and right.
SW (COURTYARD) ELEVATION: 2-storey, 7-bay, swept-roof elevation with tower (see above) adjoining to outer right. Slightly advanced, full-height entrance bay to right of centre with steps up to deeply moulded doorway with stepped hoodmould below roll-moulded cornice, large sundial between floors and small tripartite window with plain frieze breaking eaves into segmental pediment with blind panel. 2 flanking bays with 2 closely-set bipartite windows to each floor (small windows to 1st floor), penultimate bay to left gabled, slightly advanced and canted with tripartite window to each floor, corbelled, mock crenellated parapet over 1st floor window and glazed trefoil in gablehead. Bay to outer left with tripartite window to ground and small bipartite to1st floor. Adjoining altered original building beyond to left.
Multi-pane leaded glazing to SW; 4- and 6-pane glazing patterns with some coloured leaded upper lights to SE. Grey slates. Coped ashlar stacks with cans and cast-iron downpipes with decorative rainwater hoppers.
INTERIOR: dentilled cornice, boarded dadoes and dado rails, vertical panelled timber doors with 4-pane fanlights. Four-centre arch stone fireplaces with carved spandrels to Reception and Scholars Restaurant, and timber-balustered dog-leg staircase to Rizzios Restaurant.