The site of ‘the New Academy ' overlooking Kilmarnock town centre, formerly a nursery, had been acquired for the school to deal with the town's continued growth and the serious overcrowding in its classrooms. The foundation stone of the new school was laid on 31 October 1896. By today's standards the building would be judged overcrowded—one of the classrooms was intended to hold 81 pupils. In addition to the main block, an annexe with swimming baths, workshops and a gymnasium was built. The estimated cost of the new Kilmarnock Academy was £10 000, but in the event it cost some £23 000. Such was the pressure for extra space that it was used from 12 September 1898, before it was completed, and was not formally opened until 9 February 1899 by Major-General Sir Robert Murdoch Smith , a former pupil.
The picture above is of the Old Academy showing the astronomical observatory on top of the tower. (Right) The Academy evidently soon after it was erected in 1898.
The principal building was designed by local architect Robert Ingram. Ingram was the architect was responsible for the Burns Monument in the Kay Park, Kilmarnock , and was later to design such well-known buildings in the town as the Dick Institute, Loanhead Primary (opened in 1905) and the ‘Wally Houses' in North Hamilton Street . For Kilmarnock Academy he chose the Queen Anne style. Its observatory tower rises 80 feet above the ground, making it the highest building in Kilmarnock . The design avoided ornamentation, and the simplicity of its lines establishes it a prominent landmark in the townscape. For over a hundred years, this has been Kilmarnock Academy .