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.