Sytze Wierda, chief architect of the ZAR, designed the building in 1895, and the construction was completed by Te Groen in 1896. The structure consists of brick and Stinkwater sandstone and adheres to the Neo Dutch Renaissance school of architecture.
On 11 October 1899 the school closed its doors as a result of the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War. During the war British officers were held captive in this building and the escape of Winston Churchill, war correspondent and later British prime minister, from there has become legend. The school regained some life from 1902 to 1909 as the Pretoria College for Boys, which later became Pretoria Boys High School. In 1910 the college moved to larger premises and the Staats Model School building housed several other schools after that.