The former St. Joseph’s Institution campus

St. John’s Institution (as it was formerly known) was established in 1852 by six European Catholic missionaries from the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, an organisation that originated from an education movement started in France by St. John Baptist de La Salle in the late 17th century. The school operated from the premises of a former chapel along what is today Bras Basah Road. Due to a rapid increase in student enrolment, expansion works were started on the building in 1855 when a cornerstone was laid by Father Jean-Marie Beurel in an official ceremony that also saw the school renamed as St. Joseph’s Institution. The main classroom block was finished in 1867, while the extension wings and dome structure were later additions completed in 1903. During the Japanese Occupation, the military authorities took over the running of the school and renamed it Bras Basah Road Boys’ School. After the war, the school reverted back to its prior name and resumed its pre-war educational activities. In 1988, the school was relocated to a new complex at Malcolm Road, while the old campus is now home to the Singapore Art Museum.