University of Adelaide: Bonython Hall

Bonython Hall is a prominent feature on North Terrace. It is also right in the centre of the vista as you make your way north along Pulteney Street from the South Terrace parklands. Bonython Hall is the reason Pulteney Street never ventured further than its junction at North Terrace. 

In the 1920s and early 1930s there was much discussion about whether Pulteney Street should continue through the University of Adelaide to Frome Road. Many were in favour, arguing it would ease traffic congestion in the city. Others felt it would ruin the campus and cut the School of Mines and Industry off from the rest of the university.

Sir John Langdon Bonython owned The Advertiser newspaper at the time. He had always been impressed with the great halls of Melbourne and Sydney universities and felt Adelaide should have one too. In 1930, in a bid to end the discussion about extending Pulteney Street, Sir John made a large donation to the University of Adelaide. The condition was that it be used to build a hall on North Terrace exactly in the path of the proposed road.

Architect Walter Hervey Bagot designed Bonython Hall. Sir John wanted it to seem as if it had been there for a long time, like the great colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. It was built of Murray Bridge limestone with roof slates sourced from the Willunga quarries.

A strict Methodist, Sir John also insisted on a sloping floor so that the new hall was only used for formal ceremonial purposes and not dancing. He laid the foundation stone in 1933. On 8 September 1936, in South Australia’s centenary year, Bonython Hall was officially opened. It now regularly hosts university graduations and other official events that can work with a sloping floor!