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Rejuvenation for Gawler Chambers

Home > Adelaide > Historic Houses | Architecture
by Jenny Esots (subscribe)
A freelance writer and traveller who likes to explore the spiritual, literary and hidden gems of Adelaide and beyond.
Published April 23rd 2014
An expose on one of Adelaide's hidden cultural landmarks
Adelaide's cultural prescient has many heritage buildings, sculptures and leafy glades to draw the visitor in.

North Terrace has many attractions and is a favourite area of many Adelaidian's to visit.

Further info on what's on offer is available here - Adelaide Cultural Precinct - Adelaide City Council

Check out South Australian Things to do

Gawler Chambers, currently derelict
Gawler Chambers, currently derelict

One of the lesser-known buildings has been quietly resting along North Terrace for quite some decades.

Gawler Chambers is due for rejuvenation. This beautiful old building with its old world charm awaits restoration. Most folks walk blindly past its heritage facade. But it is worth a closer look.

Gawler Chambers
Gawler Chambers

Gawler Chambers is a five story building in a prominent location on the corner of Gawler Place and North Terrace. It is one of Adelaide's hidden cultural landmarks.

The corner of North Terrace and Gawler Place
The corner of North Terrace and Gawler Place

Gawler Chambers retains its heritage status and is an important element in one of the most distinctive streetscapes of Adelaide. This grand old building complements the scale and character of nearby buildings on North Terrace. The building is described as eclectic in style, containing classical and Tudor Gothic features.
The interior is also no doubt worth seeing.

Detail from the exterior of Gawler Chambers
Detail from the exterior of Gawler Chambers

A Potted History

Gawler Chambers, constructed in 1913-14, is important for its association with the South Australian Company. The Company played a central role in the foundation of South Australia, and established many industries and enterprises, including whaling, banking and pastoral enterprises.

This building is one of few surviving tangible reminders of the Company, which was actively associated with the site for over one hundred years, in an earlier building from 1842 and in Gawler Chambers until 1945.

The Chambers, through its association with the South Australian Company, has an important link to the early development of South Australia.

The building is set to undergo a transformation, with plans approved for redevelopment.

Proposed new development
Proposed new development

The building is in need of some basic maintenance, but otherwise appears to be in fair condition. The external appearance of the building has been compromised by the removal of balconies and the addition of air conditioning units.

The Advertiser reported in 2011 that a modern makeover was planned for Gawler Chambers.
'The Gawler Chambers will be transformed into contemporary office accommodation if a development application for its redevelopment is approved.

Adelaide Development Company, which has owned the building on the corner of North Tce and Gawler Place since 1945, plans to build a multi-level commercial office tower behind the building's 1914 facade.

It was also stated that with a smooth development application process and transition to construction should see the building completed by 2015.'

January 2012 saw a long awaited announcement.

Plans for a $30 million redevelopment of Gawler Chambers on the corner of North Terrace and Gawler Place in Adelaide have been approved by the city's Development Assessment Commission.
Adelaide Development Company will now progress plans to transform the disused landmark into a 14-storey building for modern office and retail space. Significantly, the century-old façade of the building will be retained and restored to its former glory.

Managing Director of Adelaide Development Company, Fiona Roche, said the company – which has owned the building since 1945 – is delighted with the DAC approval and is looking forward to speaking with prospective tenants before breaking ground on the project in 2014.

As yet there is no sign this derelict building is being returned to its former glory.

In 2012, Adelaide Development Company is celebrating its 90th year since being established by South Australia's prominent Roche family in 1922. See here for more information.
Gawler Chambers, currently derelict
Gawler Chambers, currently derelict

The façade is heritage listed and to be retained.
Gawler Chambers
Gawler Chambers

We await the next stage in the life of Gawler Chambers, in hope of a transformation worthy of its place in along North Terrace and our State's heritage.

Gawler Chambers
Gawler Chambers

188 North Terrace
188 North Terrace

The main entrance is finished in Murray Bridge granite and freestone.

Post script: I have written this article following a conversation I had with an old Adelaidian who was lamenting the buildings derelict status. Thank you Margaret for your wisdom and perspective.
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Why? Our cultural history
Where: Corner of North terrace and Gawler Place, Adelaide
Your Comment
Great to hear that the heritage facade will continue to be part of the streetscape.
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11307) 2409 days ago
Question from an observant reader, so am sending it out there;
How did the pictures of peoples faces end up in some of the windows in this building?
Does anyone know?
Have a closer look at the pictures.
by Jenny Esots (score: 3|1423) 2409 days ago
Always wondered what this building was and why it was in the state it was in. Thanks for the article! Nice work.
by All About Entertainment (score: 2|940) 2408 days ago
What a fascinating and well told story of a grand old building. May she be preserved and treated with the respect she deserves.
by Haydn Radford (score: 3|1127) 2068 days ago
What a fascinating and well told story of a grand old building. May she be preserved and treated with the respect she deserves.
by Haydn Radford (score: 3|1127) 2068 days ago
Here is the link to the interiors of Gawler Chambers.
Not looking good I am afraid. Valuing our heritage buildings is something we need to voice. I have been inspired by the transformation of some of the old buildings at Glenside. Who knew they could look so good?
by Jenny Esots (score: 3|1423) 2406 days ago
Do I understand that the facade alone will be left...the interior gutted? If so how sad that only this magnificent landmark building is only to have its facade remaining. I hope I am wrong. I have wondered for decades who owned it. They certainly must be incredibly wealthy to let a whole building sit unused on Adelaide's premier boulevard not generating income for so long and I wondered if they were doing so as it was heritage listed and they were not allowed to demolish it so decided to wait until heritage laws were changed, as they have been, and the DAC rubber stamp anything as long as the project is considered major, which this obviously is. The greatest city in the world in my opinion is New York where every old building is used for elegant housing and business. What a thriving city with heart, soul and stories. A glass box is nothing more than yawn-worthy. I have visited the ADCs website and there is not one photo of any of the projects/developments they are or have been involved in which is curious. Could you also send me the link so I can see the interior photos. Many thanks.
by Keryn James (score: 1|38) 2407 days ago
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