The Old Boys’ School, dating from 1780, is a beautiful and spacious building with a ground floor area of 217 square meters. It was built by Duke Frederick Christian I. Above the front door is a sandstone board with the school’s motto in Latin: “For the glory of God and the welfare of your neighbour”.
Before the school was built, teaching took place at the Palace. The children started at the age of five and were taught in mixed classes until the age of 10. Thereafter the boys attended a special school until their graduation. There was one class for the children of the ducal town with German as the main language, and one class for the children of the village Sebbelev with Danish as the main language.
In 1780, the Boys’ School was moved to Storegade 20, while the girls stayed at the Palace.
The schoolroom was on the ground floor to the right, and the teacher’s residence was on the ground floor to the left. In the schoolroom hung a portrait of the Duke’s daughter Princess Louise Christine Caroline, who lived in the White Mansion and had bequeathed a scholarship to the school. The funds were to go to ensure the children a good education, which she herself had greatly benefited from. It had given her pleasure and good friendships in life despite her “not so favourable appearance”, as she wrote in her will.
Many pupils benefited from these funds, some of which paid for free tuition in English in addition to the normal lessons. In general, great emphasis was placed on language teaching in the town and at court. It was not without reason that the dukes were well-liked members of the Council of State, and Duke Frederick Christian II even became patron of the University of Copenhagen. In addition to speaking and writing fluent German, Danish and French, he read English and Latin, and mastered some Italian.
At the stairs in front of the building stood the town’s old wooden well and water pump. Here the inhabitants of the town could fetch water and exchange gossip. During school breaks, the water pump was used by the pupils of the school – not only to quench their thirst but occasionally also to soak each other’s behinds!
The building has not been used as a school since the reunification in 1920. Initially, it was used for residential purposes and later as a library. At one point, Dr. Gregers Jensen had his doctor’s surgery in the house.
In 1962, the house was used as a municipal office and later as the Town Hall of Augustenborg.
After the amalgamation of municipalities in 2007, the building stood empty and began to decay. In 2014, Sønderborg Hattelaug, which runs a hat and clothing museum, moved in. The museum exhibited more than 1,000 hats, dating back to the 18th century.
Since then, the municipality has allocated funds for the restoration of the building, and Hattelauget has moved to new premises at Sønderborg Barracks.
Today, the building is part of the art centre KunstVærket.