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30 July 1879 Mitchell Building, University of Adelaide

 30 July 1879 Mitchell Building, University of Adelaide

The foundation stone of the first building of the University of Adelaide, now known as the Mitchell Building, on North Terrace was laid on 30 July 1879 by the Governor, Sir William Jervois, in front of a large gathering. This only eventuated after much controversy over the design of the building. On 17 May 1876 the Building Committee recommended that a design competition be held and the winner, decided in February 1877, was James MacGeorge. However, this was an unpopular choice and one of the most upset was Melbourne architect Michael Egan who wrote many letters to the University Registrar expressing his dissatisfaction and his view were supported in the press. In January 1878 the Committee decided to appoint Egan as the architect, but by May found they could not afford his plan. Adelaide architects Woods and McMinn (who had entered and then withdrawn from the competition) were appointed advising architects to the Committee and the final design, by McMinn, which was accepted and for which he received the credit, was apparently remarkably similar to Egan’s. McMinn estimated the building would cost £10,200 but the final tender accepted was £24,736 from Brown and Thompson. The building, in modern Gothic style, was officially opened by the Governor on 5 April 1882.

City of Adelaide Heritage Survey, Vol. 7 Parklands, pp27B/E.

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