Celebrating South Australia


21 June 1878 Bank of South Australia

 21 June 1878   Bank of South Australia

The Bank of South Australia opened for business, in its new building, on 21 June 1878. In May 1866 the Board of the Bank acquired land in King William Street on which to build the headquarters, but it was not until 1875 that a contract was let to begin work.

The building was designed by Edmund Wright of Adelaide and Lloyd Taylor of Melbourne who won a design competition. Described as in the Corinthian style, it was built of stone from the Glen Ewin Quarries with the carving done by local sculptor William Maxwell. The balcony hall, 45 x 65 x 35.5 feet, is an example of the elaborate and ornate style of the Victorian era.

In April 1894 the Union Bank of Australia took possession of the business and the premises. Then in 1951 the Union Bank amalgamated with the ANZ Bank who continued to use the building until 1971 when it was sold to an investment company who planned to demolish it to build a 19 storey office block. After public condemnation of this proposal, and following the efforts of an action group, the South Australian Government purchased the property on 18 November 1971 for $750,000.

Now re-named Edmund Wright House, it is currently the home of the History Centre. The large hall is also used for concerts.

Susan Marsden, Paul Stark, Patricia Sumerling (eds), Heritage of the City of Adelaide, Corporation of the City of Adelaide, 1990, pp. 98-99.