Epworth Building

At first glance, this building appears to be like any other office block in the city. However, if you head inside to the foyer and turn around to look back towards Pirie Street, a surprising feature above the entryway may provide a clue to its past. 

By the 1920s, the Pirie Street Methodist Church needed more space for offices and a new home for its book depot, previously located on King William Street. On 17 January 1924 the church’s building board decided to construct a new building next to the church. A parsonage, which was located on this site, was demolished to make way for the new structure. Once complete, the upper floors of the building would contain office space, and the ground floor would house the book depot. The Methodist Church also decided that part of the building would be leased as commercial office space for businesses and private individuals.

Architects George Klewitz Soward and Thomas English designed the Epworth Building. When completed in 1927, the new seven-storey building had two modern lifts, electric light and bathrooms on each floor. Its Gothic style, evident in the building’s moulds, ornamental column tops and cornices, was highly praised. In fact, the Epworth Building is the largest remaining Gothic revival commercial building in the city. 

For many years the Epworth Building was an important administrative and social base for the Methodist community. Tearooms, located in the basement of the building, hosted a number of wedding receptions. Tenants from the legal and business professions also called it home. One tenant leased an office for nearly 50 years!

In 1976, the adjacent Pirie Street Methodist Church was demolished for the Adelaide City Council offices. In 1977, the Methodist Church became part of the Uniting Church of Australia. In 2003, the Uniting Church decided to sell the Epworth Building. 

Although now privately owned, the building’s stained glass, so often used in religious structures, hints at the Epworth Building’s connection to the Methodist community in South Australia.

Images

John Wesley, Methodist Leader

John Wesley, Methodist Leader

The Epworth Building was named after the Lincolnshire birthplace of John Wesley, founder of the Wesleyan Methodist movement in England. | Source: National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG 2366 | Creator: 'John Wesley,' after George Romney, oil on canvas (1789) View File Details Page

Epworth Building foyer

Epworth Building foyer

Although used for office space, architect George Soward carefully chose the Epworth Building's details to complement the adjacent Methodist Church. View File Details Page

Natural lighting

Natural lighting

Architect George Soward was known for his wide use of windows to provide natural lighting in buildings. View File Details Page

"Structure Designers"

"Structure Designers"

Along with the Epworth Building, architect George Soward designed a number of commercial buildings in the city. | Source: ‘Structure Designers’, News, 20 March 1929, p.12, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129261643 View File Details Page

Pirie Street Methodist Church

Pirie Street Methodist Church

The Epworth Building was adjacent to the Pirie Street Methodist Church. The church was demolished in 1976. | Source: Image courtesy of Michael Burden, National Trust of South Australia Image ID: 2014.DIG.00304 View File Details Page

Pirie Street Methodist Church Manse

Pirie Street Methodist Church Manse

The Pirie Street Methodist Church Manse was demolished in 1925 in preparation for the Epworth Building. View File Details Page

Epworth Building, Pirie Street

Epworth Building, Pirie Street

The building as it appears today. | Creator: Photograph by Jessica Cronin View File Details Page

A hidden gem

A hidden gem

From the outside, the beauty of the foyer's stained glass is easily missed. It is best appreciated from inside! | Creator: Photograph by Jessica Cronin View File Details Page

Access Information:

The stained glass windows can be viewed from the foyer of the building during regular business hours.

Street Address:

33 Pirie Street, Adelaide [map]

Cite this Page:

“Epworth Building,” Adelaide City Explorer, accessed March 30, 2017, http://adelaidecityexplorer.com.au/items/show/66.
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