Mr Doolette arrived in South Australia in 1855 at the age of 15, with his parents, from Ireland. As a teenager, he found work at a drapery in King William Street. 20 years later, at the age of 35, he was the sole proprietor of the business trading as “George P. Doolette, Court and Clerical Tailors”.
In common with many other successful merchants he then invested in pastoral properties and mining ventures, as well as building this “elaborate villa” in 1883.
Mr Doolette was also a prominent member of the North Adelaide Congregational church (what's now the Brougham Place Uniting Church you saw earlier on this trail) and he was vice president of the “Young Women's Christian Association.”
George Doolette lived here for about thirteen years until 1896 before moving to England. There, he capped a career of lucrative financial ventures by floating several major mining companies in Western Australia, including Great Boulder (at Kalgoorlie) a very successful gold mining operation. In later life, he became chairman of the Western Australian Mine Owners’ Association.
Doolette was knighted in 1916. He died in England in 1924 but his ashes were returned to Adelaide.
In the 20th century this building became a training college for kindergarten teachers, and the headquarters of the Kindergarten Union of SA.
The Kindergarten Union was started in 1905 by several socially-conscious upper and middle-class men and women associated with Adelaide University (names like Barr-Smith, Waite, and Mitchell). They wanted to care for and help educate children aged between three and six, especially in Adelaide's poorer districts. The first kindergarten was set up in 1906 in Franklin Street in the city which was, at the time, one of the poorer working-class parts of the city.
This building itself was not a kindergarten. The driving forces behind the Kindergarten Union were the Reverend Bertram Hawker, and Catherine Helen Spence. Private donations from the public allowed the Kindergarten Union to provide free kindergartens for decades. It wasn’t until 1975 that its role was recognised in law, and then in 1985, the State Government took it over, after which this building could be used once again as a private residence.
From here, walk across the Park to the giant sugar gum tree.