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9 Historical Places of Interest on Grote Street

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by Graeme Fanning (subscribe)
I'm a tour guide who is passionate about South Australia and love to showcase to locals and visitors. Visit my facebook page at
Published December 26th 2017
Grab a slice of history on Grote Street
Most locals, as soon as they hear Grote Street automatically associate it with the Central Market, arguably the best market of its type in Australia, dating originally from 1869. However upon closer examination, Grote Street has some other interesting places to explore, which give some insight into Adelaide's past.

Grote Street runs in an east/west orientation between Victoria Square and West Terrace, Adelaide and was named after a banker, George Grote, who was also a member for the City of London in the British House of Commons back in the 1830's / early 1840's.

Thirty of the city's town acres were allocated on Grote Street and one of the more notable citizens, who at one time occupied a sizeable property on the southern side of Grote Street close to West Terrace, was George Strickland Kingston, Deputy Surveyor-General to Colonel William Light.

By 1842, only 5 acres had been built on, which was an omen for the fact that compared to some of the other streets within the CBD of Adelaide, Grote Street did not really take off as a residential area. Those who did live there were lower paid workers, some from trades and others white collar workers. During the 1920's, the demolition of cottages and smaller housing occurred, making way for timber yards, clothing and confectionery factories and car dealers.

9 Links to our Past on Grote Street
Central Market

A closer look down Grote Street reveals some interesting links to our past, 9 of which I have listed below:

1. St Patrick's Church

The imposing facade of St Patrick's Church can be traced back to Adelaide's first Catholic Bishop - Francis Murphy, who was consecrated in that role in the 1840's. The architect was George Strickland Kingston. The church, together with a school, opened during the 1840's and in its early years, was the principal Catholic place of worship in Adelaide, before St Francis Xavier Cathedral was established in Wakefield Street during the 1850's.

Those residents based in the western parts of Adelaide utilised St Patrick's Church as their parish during the 1870's. The old church was deemed to be too small for the amount of parishioners and it was decided to build a new larger church, which occurred between 1912 and 1914, and it is the same church you view today as you walk down Grote Street.

Until the late 1970's, the church mainly consisted of parishioners from the western suburbs of Adelaide, however, today it is shared with services in other languages other than English. The original church was demolished in 1959 to make way for a carpark.

9 Links to our Past on Grote Street
St Patrick's Church

2. Archbishop's House

Just around the corner from Grote Street on West Terrace lies the Archbishop's House, home of every Catholic Archbishop in Adelaide since it was built in 1845 for Bishop Francis Murphy. It continues to be used to this day as the home of the Archbishop. The site was originally known as Bishop's Palace and was designed by our friend, Kingston, who had also designed the original church and school.

Many alterations occurred to this house throughout history, and during the nineteenth century, an Italianate influence was used in the architecture, popular at the time. Today it is one of the oldest surviving Catholic Church buildings in Adelaide, and one of the few surviving residential buildings along West Terrace.

9 Links to our Past on Grote Street
Archbishop's House

3. Row Cottages

Some evidence is still visible of some of the earlier residential housing in the form of workers cottages along Grote Street and adjacent side lanes, a testament to another time and lifestyle. Some of the specific occupations carried out by residents back in the nineteenth century included labourers, drivers, drovers, drapers and grocer's assistants,c abinet makers, moulders, tailors, dressmakers, tinsmiths and clerks - a real mixture of vocations.

9 Links to our Past on Grote Street
Row Cottages

4. Grote Street Model School, Advanced School for Girls and Training School

Along the southern side of Grote Street, near the corner of modern-day Morphett Street, lies the well-preserved buildings which were built at a time when enlightenment of education was a growing feature of society during the 1870's.

The first of the three buildings to be erected was the Model School on the corner of Morphett Street. The Board of Education at the time viewed the Model School as a way of "furnishing a standard of method and organisation for the public schools generally". At its peak, up to 600 pupils attended the school, and separation occurred between boys, girls and infants.

Even the design of the building, attributed to architect, Edward John Woods, allowed for ventilation of rooms through ceiling and wall apertures, having thought for the overall health of the students.

The building next to the Model School, the Training School was built in 1875-76 and included a large lecture hall with rounded corners to improve sound, an apparatus room, a library and practising schoolroom designed to cater for 75 children.

This training school was the very first teacher training facility in South Australia, with the mid 1870's passing legislation which required that every child between the ages of 7 and 13 must attend school. These training schools were extremely important for preparing teachers for the increase in those attending school.

The final building, on the eastern end of the acreage, was a school built initially for girls, known as the Advanced School for Girls, which was built in the early 1890's. However, the school had been operating in "temporary" facilities in Franklin Street back in the late 1870's. The school was the state's first secondary school and the first state school for girls above primary level.

Not only was there an expansion of public education but also a need for girls, in particular, to train to eventually become teachers.

In 1908, the Model School and the Training School amalgamated to become the Continuation School for Boys, with a further amalgamation occurring with the Advanced School for Girls to become Adelaide High School, which opened later that year. Back then, there was still segregation of the sexes, and the school operated in this way right up until 1917. The boys eventually moved to the current site of Adelaide School during the 1950's with the girls finally joining them in the 1970's.

9 Links to our Past on Grote Street
Advanced School for Girls

5. E T Fisher & Co Building

It is always fascinating to observe the old facades of buildings which still have the original advertising of the business that occupied the premises, even though that business may have ceased to operate decades previously.

On the southern side of Grote Street, near the entrance to the Central Market, lies a facade of an old building, which has the words E T Fisher & Co, which piqued my curiosity as to what the business was and how long it operated on the site.

E T Fisher & Co were Motor Cycle Importers, and Electroplaters and were certainly a thriving business during the 1920's. In fact, during that decade, these premises were one of the first in Adelaide to have petrol pumps installed.

Adjacent to the building was the old Empire Theatre, which opened in 1909 to moving pictures and vaudeville acts. The theatre was used as a movie house right up until 1948 and then used for other community purposes until the department store People stores moved in during 1952 and took up the whole block all the way through to Gouger Street. Today, the facade remains, however, is utilised by various businesses adjacent to the Central Market.

9 Links to our Past on Grote Street
E T Fisher & Co facade

6. Trade Union Hall

Another facade which tells a story is located at 116 Grote Street on the northern side, is what was the home of the Federated Liquor & Allied Trades Employee's Union.

The United Trades and Labour Council (UTLC) was originally formed in Adelaide in 1884 and it was not long after when there was a move to acquire a block of land to build a Trades Hall somewhere in the city. A parcel of land was acquired in Grote Street on the northern side, close to Victoria Square which led to the first Trade Union Hall being built and opened in 1896.

From 1896, the building housed the UTLC, numerous individual unions, the United Labor Party as well as workers welfare organisations. By the 1920's, this building was deemed too small, however, it was not until 1950 that the Liquor Trades Union constructed its own building at number 116 Grote Street.

With the growth of the trade unions during the 1960's Trades Hall in Grote Street could no longer cope with the demands associated with this growth and a new HQ for Trade Unions was opened on South Terrace in 1972.

Today the building is home to an intimate entertainment venue known as K Tunes Lounge, which can be hired out for special events, functions, cabarets, and live music. The venue was formerly known as the Promethean and hosted a theatre for small productions, as well as for university students stemming from the 1980's.

9 Links to our Past on Grote Street
Trade Union Hall

7. Hampshire Hotel

One of the iconic pubs in Grote Street, the Hampshire Hotel, is sadly no longer operating these days. A hotel has occupied the site since 1856 when the original Coach House Tavern was built. It only operated for a short time in that name and under its licence was known as the Hampstead Hotel. From 1869, the hotel became known as the Hampshire Hotel, being replaced by a hotel with the same name in 1911. The architecture can be attributed to F Kenneth Milne, who was recognised as one of the great domestic architects of the period up to the 1930's.

When built in 1911, the hotel was known as the "smallest pub in Adelaide". In more recent times before closure, the venue operated as backpacker's accommodation.

The good news is that there looks like there may be renewed life at the Hampshire, with plans to open as Hotel Longtime, an Asian gastropub. Stay tuned as they are hoping to open sometime in January 2018!

9 Links to our Past on Grote Street
Hampshire Hotel

8. Her Majesty's Theatre

This beautiful theatre started life as the Princess Theatre, built in 1912-13 on the site of a paddock used by market gardeners and stallholders at the City Market as a place to park their carts and feed their horses.

The Princess was soon leased by Harry Rickards, a leading Australian variety entrepreneur and re-named the "new" Tivoli Theatre. This renewed theatre was re-opened in 1913 by then Adelaide Lord Mayor, John Lavington Bonython, and the headline act on that opening night was the renowned actress, Lillie Langtry.

Sadly, it never became the principal theatre venue in Adelaide, due to its location, away from the busier areas of the city nearer North Terrace.

In 1962, the Tivoli was extensively altered and re-named Her Majesty's Theatre following the closure of Theatre Royal in Hindley Street. Alterations included changes to the entrance foyer, as well as the replacement of the original dress circle and gallery with a single upper circle.

A further name change occurred in the late 1970's, becoming the Opera Theatre, home of the State Opera Company, until such time they eventually moved into Festival Theatre in 1989. This was when the name changed again back to Her Majesty's Theatre, which is still an iconic venue for theatre productions.

Like many old heritage buildings, there are the associated ghost stories, stemming from an engineer who tragically was said to have fallen to his death from a ladder on the opening night of the theatre.

A substantial re-development of the site is scheduled, having been announced back in 2016. This expansion of the venue will see the theatre's capacity grow from 970 to around 1,500, and the project is at this time believed to be completed by late 2019.

9 Links to our Past on Grote Street
Her Majesty's Theatre

9. Hotel Metropolitan

You will find the Hotel Metropolitan on the opposite corner from Her Majesty's Theatre on the corner of Pitt Street and Grote Street, providing an ideal watering hole for theatre patrons.

The original hotel was built in 1858, eventually being replaced by a much larger building in 1883. The Penaluna family, who were the original licensees, held onto the hotel right up until the 1970's. Today it is a State Government heritage listed hotel.

The venue has been modernised and offers good pub fare together with live music on a regular basis. The menu boasts some Australian dishes including Spicy Kangaroo Salad for $20, and Herb and Parmesan Crumbed Coorong Mullet for $22.

The Metropolitan is open for lunch 7 days between 12 Noon and 2.30 pm and for dinner 6 pm - 8.30 pm also 7 days a week.

9 Links to our Past on Grote Street
Hotel Metropolitan

Again, some surprising finds within the CBD of Adelaide which reveal some interesting stories.
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Why? An opportunity to discover some surprising finds on Grote Street
When: Any time of the year
Phone: 08 8203 7203
Where: Grote Street Adelaide SA
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Your Comment
Terrific article Graeme, and I love the angle of your photos.
by May Cross (score: 3|7416) 1073 days ago
There's so many great places!
by Jay Johnson (score: 3|1368) 1071 days ago
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