ONE of the most notable buildings in the Hillfoots is Dollar Academy.

Originally known as the Dollar Institution or McNabb’s School, it was designed by well-known architect William Henry Playfair whose neo-classical style later influenced much of Edinburgh’s New Town such as the Observatory on Calton Hill, Regent’s Terrace, and the city’s New College.

The academy was Playfair’s second principal project.

The founder of the academy, John McNabb, was a local herd boy born in Dollar in 1732 who went on to make his fortune as a shipping agent.

Many of the ships he dealt with traded in America and the West Indies where the slave trade was prevalent; however, there is no record of McNabb being a slave trader himself.

Despite being penniless when he left Dollar, it is thought he himself owned or part-owned up to eight trading ships at various times in the late 18th century.

With his fortune amassed, McNabb settled in London where he died in January 1802 aged 69, leaving an estate of £55,000.

The interest from this money, amounting to around £37,000, was bequeathed to the village of Dollar with a stipulation that a new school be built there for the people of the village.

The projected costs of building the new school came to just over £9000.

Debate ensued regarding the type of stone to be used for the school.

Playfair preferred stone from the Cullaloe Hills in Fife, however the Trustees insisted on stone from nearby Sheardale and as such the landowner Craufurd Tait re-opened his quarries and work began on extracting stone for the project in mid-1819. The build was completed in December 1821.

Further development to the school included a hall added to the Playfair building in 1869, the Boys Sports Pavilion in 1908 and the Science and Domestic block two years later.

The Preparatory School, to cater for children aged 5 to 12, was officially opened in 1937.

A fire broke out within the Playfair building on 24th February 1961, where the interior, including the circular library with its distinctive dome, was destroyed.

Two years later the Prep School also went on fire but the damage was contained to one section of the school.

Concealed above the main doors of the school is a casket containing the ashes of John McNabb, which were brought back from London in 1929 by former pupils Andrew Drysdale and Kevin Husband, where they were interred in 1931.