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Published December 11th 2014
Iconic Harts Mill - One of the Abandoned Buildings in Port Adelaide
Many people think that we are lucky to have preserved such a fine collection of architecture in Adelaide. Grand and imposing Victorian buildings, tiny workers' cottages, sleek yet simple Art Deco structures, and striking but featureless modern towers all sit comfortably together.
Last year the Adelaide City Council and the National Trust's Adelaide City Heritage site ran a public competition to find out what's our favourite building in Adelaide. A total of 192 buildings were nominated, and the finalists included a good cross section of building styles from around the CBD.
When media personality Keith Conlon was asked to name his favourite building in Adelaide, his choices were mostly classical but elegant. They included the Beehive Corner, Parliament House and Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange.
In general younger people seem to have a preference for more modern buildings - especially tall towers. Despite this the recent huge queues at open days for Z Ward Glenside showed that some older buildings can also have a strong attraction for younger people.
Admirers of architecture in Adelaide can now take advantage of new technology to learn more about their favourite buildings - your smart phone can be the key to unlocking their stories. History SA is slowly extending its encyclopaedic History Hub into the suburbs and regions of SA too, giving greater access to information about the history of places around the state.
It's often worthwhile peeking into building lobbies - some buildings that look dirty and dingy on the outside can be quite opulent on the inside.
An Old Bank Vault Uncovered During Open House Adelaide
Open House Adelaide brings a wonderful opportunity to explore places that are normally inaccessible, and can open the door to some very unusual finds.
Of course your favourite building in Adelaide need not be in the CBD. There are many spectacular and unusual houses in Adelaide suburbs, and others are just quite odd.
Port Adelaide contains some awesome examples of buildings that I like - the monumental Harts Mill towering over the Port River, and the massive wool stores from a more prosperous bygone age. Renewal SA and the Adelaide Chapter of the Art Deco and Modernism Society recently hosted an Art Deco tour of Port Adelaide, and I was surprised at the number of buildings from this period that exist in the Port. Perhaps my favourite building on the tour was not actually Art Deco at all - the Port Adelaide Masonic Centre is an Egyptian Revival building with subtly styled whimsical motifs decorating the fascia.
Whimsical Motifs on Port Adelaide Masonic Building
Urban explorers are always on the lookout for abandoned buildings in Adelaide, hoping to find secret tunnels or hidden basements. Generally these buildings are dilapidated and run down, but there are still some favourites left standing.
Do you have a favourite building in Adelaide city or one of the regions of South Australia? Many regional centres such as Gawler and Mount Gambier have an impressive collection of grand buildings which are a testament of wealthier times.
Let's hear about your favourite building choice in the comments - I imagine there will some surprises!
The Maritime Museum. A lot of my families history is in there. Some of it from our house. My Grandfather was part of Her Majesties Colonial Navy. Served on the HMCS Protector, went to China, as one of the 7 officers, for the Boxer Rebellion. Returned in time for Federation & formation of the Royal Australian Navy.
Bonython Hall on North Terrace facing Pultney Street is my favourite building. Apart from the most dignified style, I like the stonework & gothic windows outside and the timber panelling from floor to ceiling inside.