The "hidden" Elder Hall

Elder Hall is a surprising find on this quiet street dominated by the rear walls of the contemporary high-rises on Grote and Franklin streets. While far less well known than its namesake on North Terrace, this smaller Elder Hall is special. It is a symbol of the work of private charities and benevolent organisations set up in the early colonial period to help those most vulnerable.

On 2 February 1849, a group of citizens set up The Adelaide Benevolent and Strangers’ Friend Society. Many new immigrants were arriving in Adelaide with very little money, most of their savings being used for passage to the colony. Along with the difficulties of finding a job and the city’s high rent, new settlers could easily find themselves destitute.

The Adelaide Benevolent and Strangers’ Friend Society aimed to “to relieve the sick and indigent, especially among the newly arrived immigrants”. Members assessed applicants' needs and handed out relief. In 1869, the society began buying small houses and renting them at a low cost.

In 1898, a £1,000 bequest from the late Sir Thomas Elder  allowed the society to build a new headquarters. Architects Daniel Garlick and Herbert Jackman designed the new building on Morialta Street. Like the University of Adelaide's School of Music, this new building was named in honour of its benefactor.

While the smaller Elder Hall is simple, its façade was described as having a "gem-like" quality. Since it was built, there have been only minor changes inside Elder Hall to allow for more office space. 

Today the Adelaide Benevolent Society still offers affordable housing and financial relief to South Australians from this building. It is an important symbol of the city’s philanthropic past and present.

Images

Elder Hall, Morialta Street, 2014

Elder Hall, Morialta Street, 2014

Elder Hall is the only building to front onto Morialta Street. | Creator: Photograph by Jessica Cronin View File Details Page

Elder Hall pediment

Elder Hall pediment

The society's inscription and the year of its establishment are visible on the pediment above the doorway of the building. | Creator: Photograph by Jessica Cronin View File Details Page

The legacy of Sir Thomas Elder

The legacy of Sir Thomas Elder

Thomas Elder's philanthropy left a lasting mark on the city's built landscape. His generous donations supported the construction of a number of landmark buildings, including St Peters Cathedral in North Adelaide, the Elder Park rotunda, the School of Music at the University of Adelaide, and Elder Hall on Morialta Street. | Creator: Photograph by Jessica Cronin View File Details Page

Street Address:

17 Morialta Street, Adelaide [map]

Cite this Page:

“The "hidden" Elder Hall,” Adelaide City Explorer, accessed May 29, 2017, http://adelaidecityexplorer.com.au/items/show/3.

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