A grim reminder of the site’s early history, this small building, now used as a maintenance shed, was the former Mortuary of the Adelaide Lunatic Asylum. Established in 1852, the Adelaide Asylum overlooked the original Adelaide Botanic Gardens and was deliberately sited closely to the Adelaide Hospital. The Asylum was not only used to incarcerate people suffering from mental illness, but also people with intellectual disabilities and debilitating medical conditions. By the 1860s, overcrowding resulted in the design of the new Parkside Lunatic Asylum at Glenside in 1870, though the North Terrace facility would continue to operate until 1902. The main Asylum building was subsequently used as an infectious diseases ward by the Royal Adelaide Hospital until it was eventually demolished in 1938.
Constructed in 1882, the former Mortuary is one of few surviving outbuildings within the Adelaide Botanic Gardens relating to the history of the Adelaide Lunatic Asylum. Constructed from Yatala stone, the simple rectangular building retains its original interior with its mortuary slab and slate stone floor. Grieve Gillett Andersen conducted a heritage assessment as part of a Conservation Management Plan in the early 2000s to ensure appropriate maintenance.