Celebrating South Australia


2 March 1948 Moore's fire

 2 March 1948   Moore's fire

Charles Moore's department store in Victoria Square was destroyed by fire on 2 March 1948. The building was reduced to a shell three and a half hours after the fire broke out at about 6.30 p.m. The fire began in the space between the roof and the second-floor ceiling and spread quickly causing an estimated £500,000 damage. 

It was a most spectacular fire with flames leaping 20 feet high through the roof before it collapsed. By morning the building, built in 1916, was a scene of devastation, although amazingly the marble staircase, a well known feature of the store, survived relatively unscathed. Luckily, as the fire started after closing time, no-one died in the inferno although a number of firemen were treated for injuries and the effects of smoke.

The store was rebuilt and continued trading as Charles Moore's until 1980 when the business closed down. The State Government bought the building and turned it into law courts, adding a central dome above the handsome staircase. This is now the Samuel Way Building, named for a former Chief Justice of South Australia. It is an impressive example of how historical buildings can be 'recycled' rather than destroyed and replaced.

The Advertiser,  3,4 March 1948.