In the mid 1800's there was a boom happening in Port Elizabeth. It was during this time that Sir George Grey, Governor of the Cape from 1854-61, played a leading role in the establishment of educational institutes throughout the colony. At the instigation of John Paterson, one of Port Elizabeth's the first Town Councillors, the then municipality took over vacant land on top of the hill opposite the Donkin Reserve and the establishment of a grammar school. A Mr Archibald was commissioned to prepare plans and specifications for the building in September 1856 and by the end of 1858 the school was ready for occupation. The town decided to name the school in honor of the Governor, in recognition of his contribution to education in the colony. In January 1859 elementary classes were commenced and in April the high school was formally opened. When the building was built it didn't have a clock tower (as can be seen in the Then photo above). This was added in 1875 gave the building its dominant character over its surroundings. By 1914 the building had grown too small for its needs, and the high school was moved to its current location in Mill Park. After that the building was used by Pearson High School (now in Summerstrand) and Albert Jackson Primary School (which later moved and became Greenwood Primary on Park Drive). The building was declared a National Monument on 10 December 1976.
The Grey Institute building started to fall into disrepair and wasn't looking very good when it was bought by the Mediterranean Shipping Company for their Port Elizabeth office. Over the last decade or so they have pushed millions of rand into the restoration of the buildings with a full time restoration team and the place is looking stunning inside and out. Well worth a visit if you can twist somebody's arm to show you around.