Adelaidepedia is all about Adelaide, South Australia. For those of you unfamiliar with the city, the following provides an introduction to the city, its origins and development.
by Dr Susan Marsden
Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, is the key to the history of every region in the State. It is the seat of power, the financial and cultural centre, and the starting-point and terminus of all the transport routes which enmesh the State as intricately and deliberately-centred as a spider’s web. South Australia is and has always been a City State, with a huge hinterland dominated by a town built ‘before there was any country population or country produce to support it’.
The reasons for this pre-date colonization itself. It was established by an expansionist European country whose growing economic and political power found expression in the creation of a series of little Britains across the world. This new province was planned, advertised and sold with a merchant's efficiency even before its first settlers had sailed. Colonel William Light was instructed to site the new capital city, and from that point, to subdivide the country into 80-acre blocks. Adelaide was a commercial act in itself; its very creation a form of investment. As with other such ‘commercial cities’, it was established to open up the hinterland for exploitation, and to tie in with Britain's advanced industries and the surplus of labour.
The city of Adelaide and its suburbs grew rapidly from the start as skills, the labour force and capital were imported, and as the hinterland was brought into primary production.
With a mere two months allowed to select the city site, Colonel Light concentrated on the east coast of Gulf St Vincent, near the fertile lands praised by previous explorers, and centrally situated to the rest of the colony. Light had decided that the Port River should become the city's harbour, but the nearest land was swamp or sandhills, with no fresh water. However, once the River Torrens was discovered, the site of the city was decided upon. His choice was a level, but slightly elevated, site beside the Torrens Valley, about 12 kilometres inland from the port.
The site was fixed on 31 December 1836, and as the commencement of government in South Australia had been made only on 28 December, Adelaide itself is almost exactly the same age as South Australia.
The inland siting of the city provided opportunities for profitable subdivision in all directions. A series of suburban villages soon surrounded the city, and Adelaide became a business district central to its metropolitan population.
This sequence of development would appear to fit perfectly within a theoretical framework of ever widening concentric development from a central core. But this was complicated by the practical realities of the site, human choice and cycles of economic prosperity and depression. The main exceptions were the towns which grew upon the major transport routes—most importantly, Port Adelaide, Glenelg and Gawler—and the effects upon settlement of the River Torrens and the lesser creeks in the region. Land was rapidly taken up along the length of the Torrens. To the west of Adelaide the land fell away towards the coast and the country surrounding the river was often flooded. The alluvial soil provided rich agricultural land and sustained extensive farms, vineyards and homesteads. But until the drainage of the area was finally solved in the 1930s, large-scale subdivision was out of the question except on the fringe of the city parklands, at Thebarton and on the coast at Glenelg, Henley Beach and Grange. By contrast, the land near the Torrens and its five tributary creeks oil- rising ground to the east of the city was rapidly taken up by farmers and also subdivided as suburban villages or large ‘villa allotments’.
Immediately to the south of Adelaide, the combination of good water-supplies, the proximity to the city, and major roads to the hills district, allowed for successful early subdivision, such as at Goodwood, Unley and Mitcham. To the north of Adelaide, the attractions were less obvious: early working-class settlements, such as Prospect and Islington, were created, but they were for many years surrounded by farms.
The history and heritage of urban development in the present metropolitan area may be divided geographically into several parts: the city of Adelaide itself; the suburban villages and towns within a radius of 4 to 6 kilometres; and the rural or semi-rural settlements beyond that to the north and the south of Adelaide and in the foothills of the Mount Lofty Ranges. The inner metropolitan area may be divided further into the western and northern metropolitan area; Port Adelaide and its suburbs; and the eastern and southern metropolitan area.
Adelaide was divided by Colonel Light into two sections, one on each side of the Torrens and surrounded by parklands. South Adelaide (commonly called Adelaide) comprised 700 one-acre blocks (‘town acres’), and North Adelaide 342 town acres. In South Adelaide, a central square (Victoria Square) was balanced by four smaller squares; upper North Adelaide had another central square (Wellington Square). Sites for public functions such as Government House, government stores, the Botanic Gardens, hospital, cemetery, and Aboriginal Reserve were provided in the parklands. The main government offices were placed near Victoria Square, where they are still: The plan predetermines to a large extent, contemporary town planning principles ... nothing of this scale and magnificence was to be seen in Australia again until the planning of the National Capital by Walter Burley Griffin.
This city layout is thus in itself of great heritage significance, not only in the South Australian, but also in the national context. The Surveyor-General’s layout extended in more general terms beyond the parklands to the surrounding country sections. The outer edge of the parklands was bounded by terraces, and a grid pattern of sections of varying sizes was drawn over the area beyond, with roads 1 chain wide between sections. Superimposed on this minor road pattern were several radial roads, the main ones being Port Road (north-west) and Holdfast Bay Road (later called Anzac Highway, to the south-west). Colonel Light reserved space for a canal which has remained a public reservation along the centre of Port Road.
This was the framework within which suburban subdivision of individual sections and the insertion of minor streets have taken place. Thus the original road and section patterns have been ‘fossilized in the landscape’.
For most of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, working-class and lower middle-class residents tended to live close to their workplaces, either in the city or the ‘suburbs and villages’ beyond. However, the lives of the South Australian ‘gentry’ straddled city, suburb and country, with a marked effect on the region’s heritage.
If in the eastern colonies such gentry preferred to live on rural estates, in South Australia they usually came to live in the city or nearby on ‘country’ acres convenient to town. Their woolclips financed the construction of their deliberately imposing mansions in Brougham Place or East Terrace, or beyond. Urban wealth was added to rural income with some city landlordism or suburban subdivision. Sometimes, the rise was meteoric to a house appropriate to one's acquired status: five years after a German boundary rider, Charles Rasp, had pegged a mining claim in the desolate area (Broken Hill) near Silverton in New South Wales, he possessed a mansion in Medindie to which he gave the Aboriginal name for Broken Hill, Willyama.
Merchants and professional people also made their way in society as Sir Samuel Way's mansion Montefiore in North Adelaide indicates. Thomas Elder lived at Birksgate, the Barr Smiths at Torrens Park and later Angas Street, John Rounsevell lived in Hutt Street (the building still occupies an entire unsubdivided Town Acre), and George Hawker was at The Briars in Walkerville. All of these large houses still stand. Several mansions were built with extensive gardens within the semi-rural suburban villages at Woodville, Walkerville, Magill, Burnside, Glen Osmond and Mitcham: Though they lived in the metropolis, members of Society were not confined to an urban way of life. In fact in Adelaide the wealthy came nearest to realizing their ambition in recreating the life of the English country gentlemen.
Protestant churches, particularly the Methodists, were very popular but Anglicanism was usually the faith of the social elite. In the villages, St Andrew’s at Walkerville, St Margaret’s at Woodville, St George’s at Magill, St Saviour’s at Glen Osmond, St Matthew’s at Marryatville and St Michael’s at Mitcham were supported. Many simple original 1840s and 1850s houses were greatly enlarged, or new houses were built, during the boom years of the 1870s and early 1880s, and a considerable number have survived. These surviving nineteenth century houses are not only significant as examples of colonial life but also because their histories were intimately connected with the villages and suburban extensions which were laid out beside them, frequently assuming their very names. Such houses include The Grange, Glanville Hall, Modbury Farm, Golden Grove House, Beaumont House, Springfield House, Urrbrae House, Torrens Park, Murray Park, Marino Homestead, Kingston Park, Kidman Park and Ashford House.
These houses were also the forerunners of both the middle-class suburban ‘villas’ of the late nineteenth century—based on tram or train transport—and the suburban homes of the mid-twentieth century—based on the car.
The green belt of the Adelaide parklands acted as a ‘city wall’, containing the city and defining its boundaries with the agricultural lands/suburban sprawl beyond. Despite the abundance of city land, its containment meant that high prices were asked for all the town acres, forcing out the lesser-paid workers even though half the city (southern South Adelaide) was left almost vacant as a result until as late as the 1880s.
The demand for cottage allotments at the same time as rural service centres, was readily catered for by the purchasers of the country acres beyond Adelaide’s parklands. The first suburban village subdivision was made by and named after the first Governor. This was Hindmarsh, situated on the north-west edge of the parklands, which was selected, subdivided and sold in 1838.
The manager of the South Australian Company, which owned almost all the land as a sheep run between the parklands southwards to the foothills, predicted in 1839 ‘the whole of our nine sections now adjoining the Park Lands may ultimately be set out as villas or villages’. The Company continued its subdivisions of its original country holdings about Adelaide until as late as the 1920s.
Between July 1838 and November 1841, at least thirty villages were laid out near Adelaide although only those with some geographical advantages assumed early importance. Six of these were noted in 1840: Hindmarsh (661 residents), Bowden (393), Thebarton (501), Prospect (109) and Walkerville (202). They also included Goodwood, Kensington, Islington and the German village of Klemzig. All were located near the Torrens or its tributary creeks, on the outer edge of the parklands or where important roads passed through to country areas.
Further subdivisions were usually ‘tacked-on’. Subsequent urban development was slow but sure, not as an extension of the city itself but outwards in several directions from the original suburban villages. Many of those original villages have remained the nuclei of modern suburbs, with their jostle of nineteenth century public and commercial buildings lined up along major thoroughfares; for example, the Parade at Norwood and the Port Road at Hindmarsh are localities of great heritage significance. With the growth of primary production, factories were quickly established to process raw materials. By 1841 there were three or four distilleries close to Adelaide, a brewery, two tanneries, a candle manufactory and five steam-mills for grinding wheat.
Apart from the establishment of Port Adelaide at a new site, two other settlements of note were created in this period at greater distance from Adelaide than those described above. These were Glenelg and Mitcham. Holdfast Bay was the first official landing place in 1836. There, Glenelg was designed in 1839 by Colonel Light about a central square which became St Peter's Anglican Church. Glenelg was planned to develop as a port and seaside side resort, and although the harbour was never of major importance, by 1851 there were eighty houses, substantial ‘marine villas’ and cottages and huts which formed a contrast with country hamlets such as Plympton and Marion. Glenelg became an upper-class marine retreat, although most of the resident male workforce in the nineteenth century were fishermen, and the females domestic servants.
As at North Adelaide and Walkerville, these occupations resulted in mansions and workers’ cottages being built in close proximity. The mansions overlooked the good views, such as the Torrens Valley or the sea, or the spacious thoroughfares, while the smaller houses crowded along narrower streets and lanes, or clustered beside the stores, workshops and hotels. A more striking contrast is between North Adelaide and Bowden—Brompton, just beyond the parklands where small and crowded cottages supplied the servants for the large houses up the hill.
Other coastal suburbs later attracted similar attention as Glenelg. The Marines, a magnificent terrace of three-storey houses, built in 1882 at Grange is a good example. By then, public transport allowed residents to commute, and provided leisure-seekers with day trips. The coastal suburbs became popular public resorts with their jetties, kiosks, 'family' hotels, sideshows and boarding-houses.
The seaside also attracted a number of institutional users, many of which were established in former mansions.
Mitcham was laid out south of the city, ‘in compliance with applications from several parties who were desirous of securing sites for villas in the immediate neighbourhood of the town, but which should at the same time secure the advantages of a country residence …’ Similar advertisements enticed purchasers to villages such as Kensington and Woodville, which was one of a large number of lesser suburban villages laid out in the late 1840s or early 1850s. For much of the nineteenth century, the character of such areas as Woodville and Mitcham remained essentially farmland, the villages populated largely by agricultural workers, carriers, and local tradesmen and business people, with isolated farmhouses or mansions scattered across the landscape. Subsequent subdivision has not so much obliterated this nineteenth century landscape but filled it in, sometimes thereby swamping the earlier buildings. Mitcham and Kensington, in particular, have retained their distinctive original village layouts with many of the buildings dating from the 1840s and 1850s onwards still fronting the now bypassed village centres.
Port Adelaide was by far the most important ‘secondary town’ established in the region. As a replacement site to the original 'Port Misery', the new port was laid out in 1840 on South Australian Company land. Albert Town (Alberton) was developed by the Company as a suburb of Port Adelaide. Other Port Adelaide suburbs evolved nearby at Queenstown and Portland, and on Lefevre Peninsula at Glanville and Semaphore, and later, Largs. Despite its intimate commercial links with Adelaide, the Port soon became a distinct town in its own right, almost a shadow capital, with its economy squarely based on its economic functions.
Commercial, industrial and public facilities were concentrated in central Port Adelaide, with its working and professional population 'commuting' from the Port’s suburbs. Within the centre, prominent buildings—including warehouses, bonded stores and shipping suppliers and agencies—were concentrated near the wharfs and docks which developed along the Port River despite regular inundation at high tide. Reclamation, filling and embanking were undertaken so extensively that some of the original buildings are now buried and have become the cellars of new buildings erected above them.
The Port has always totally dominated the State's trade. This position was reinforced by the construction of the colony's first steam-engine railway line from Adelaide in 1856. Several original railway buildings have survived including the Alberton and Bowden stations. In 1857 another line was built from Adelaide via the present North Adelaide Railway Station to Gawler, extending farther north in later years.
The region's earliest municipal and district councils (apart from the first, short-lived Adelaide City Council) were created in 1853 essentially to raise funds locally to make, maintain or improve the execrable local roads and highways. The earliest surviving civic buildings reflect this humble financial and political status. This function remained Local Government's main burden if not its only activity. Relics of this nineteenth century preoccupation include bluestone kerbing, brick-paved gutters, and fords and bridges over the numerous creeks and the Torrens and Port rivers.
Most of the more substantial structures were built by agencies of the central—later, the State—Government. Many bridges are excellent examples of contemporary construction techniques and engineering skills. There are several small brick or stone arch bridges dating from the 1850s and 1860s, as at Inglewood, Mitcham and Kensington. Six large steel or concrete bridges span the Torrens near the city, from Hackney (1885) to Hindmarsh (1880). Of the twentieth century structures, one of the State's two lift bridges operates above the Port River at Birkenhead, and there are bridges constructed originally for tramways use at Mile End, Gawler and Hindmarsh. Regular ‘commuter’ traffic was made possible by horse-trams which, on steel tracks, were first run in 1878 between Kensington and Adelaide. Then the race was on, as private companies threw up car barns and stables (as at Magill, Prospect and North Adelaide) and established new lines. Richard Twopeny wrote in the midst of all this, ‘Adelaide is the only Australian town in which the American system of buying land and making a railway to bring population to it, has been carried out. The idea was first tried with tramways, the writer having taken some part in originating and promoting it’.
Twopeny also profited from resubdivision: ‘This speculation is quite a feature of Australian life, and at certain periods it is difficult to lose money by it’. In Adelaide, as in Melbourne and Sydney, speculative fervour reached a peak in the mid-1870s and 1880s, resulting in a considerable extension of the suburbs within the region. Subdivision inevitably ran ahead of housing construction but large numbers of new houses, shops and public buildings, such as schools, churches, town halls and Mechanics Institutes, were constructed. The city centre was extensively rebuilt. Much of the region's nineteenth century heritage is in fact an outcome of this boom of only about ten years’ duration and includes the much-admired bluestone and cast-iron lacework decorated villas of inner suburbs such as St Peters, Norwood and Unley.
Building Societies contributed to this development by putting home-ownership within the reach of working-class families. In some cases, whole townships were built entirely by these societies (such as at Goodwood): ... the houses are all as like as peas in a pod—four-roomed squares or six-roomed oblongs built of red brick (or bluestone fronted), and with every detail exactly the same; but their plainness and similarity does not detract from their manifest virtues. Terraces and attached houses are universally disliked, and almost every class of house is detached and stands in its own garden.
The quality of urban life was also improved with the establishment of other services such as reticulated water-supplies and gas. The massive stone building and other relics of the Brompton gas works remain a significant example of industrial construction and technology of the 1860s, as well as being a dominant landmark and stimulus to development in Brompton itself. Thousands of homes were sewered within a few years of the creation of a sewage-farm at Islington in 1881. Between 1871 and 1891 the metropolitan share of South Australia's population rose from a third (33.1 per cent) to almost a half (45.3 per cent). At the same time, the population of the suburbs finally surpassed that of the city.
The heritage of the Adelaide region is not, however, simply tied to the theme of urban development. The Adelaide Plains and nearby foothills were South Australia’s first major agricultural region, and rural pursuits persisted alongside suburban activities until well into the twentieth century. This contributed greatly to Adelaide's Garden City image. Its heritage is not only an aesthetic one of surviving almond orchards or vineyards: primary production was also a continuing significant economic activity within the region.
Settlements, such as Cowandilla, Findon, Marion, Plympton and Payneham, retained a curiously isolated rural character, in some cases until their broad acres were bought up for housing by the South Australian Housing Trust or other developers after the Second World War.
Wheat crops and sheep grazing were replaced after the 1850s by less extensive, more urban market-oriented uses—vineyards, dairies, lucerne paddocks, orchards, almonds and market gardens. Despite the destruction wrought after the Second World War suburban boom, some of these uses have survived, with their nineteenth century heritage of associated buildings and structures. A significant part of the region's special character will disappear if the destruction is permitted to continue to its end.
The vineyards provide a good example of this rural heritage. The suburbs were the State’s first and, until very recently, one of its major grape-growing regions. Hack and Stevenson planted vines at North Adelaide in 1837. By 1840 the Hamilton Ewell vineyards were established at Glenelg, the Reynella vineyards in the south and Davis vineyards at the Reed Beds west of Adelaide. By the 1850s there were vineyards and wineries established to the west, the south and the east of the city, and farther afield in the north-east at Highercombe, Hope Valley and Tea Tree Gully. The vineyards themselves have been built over, or drastically reduced in extent, but many of the winery houses and cellars have survived. They include Thomas Hardy and Sons’ cellars at Mile End. This handsome structure was built in 1893 for the largest wine-maker in the State. Its first vineyard was only a short distance away in what is now suburban Torrensville.
Mining was another important early form of primary production, and has left a legacy of old mine workings at Glen Osmond and in the Burnside area, and pugholes at Brompton and Thebarton.
Thus, the heritage of the whole region should be read in two ways. There was the early establishment of village communities and urban functions, and an evolution in type, scale and complexity of these functions, together with a significant theme of primary production. The farmhouse stands beside the suburban villa; the cowshed near the car barn; but the vines, the almonds and the market gardens have been almost all rooted out.
This rural theme has predominated in the heritage of the outer areas, which have been brought within metropolitan boundaries only within the past twenty years. The country to the south-east of Adelaide, sloping from the Mount Lofty Ranges to the sea, was a beautiful, well-watered landscape which impressed many of its earliest visitors. These were the first areas to be surveyed and settled outside the vicinity of Adelaide. Although densely populated in agricultural terms by as early as 1840, these southern districts remained essentially rural, with small but self-sufficient service towns, until as late as the 1960s.
The townships of Morphett Vale, Noarlunga, Aldinga (originally Dowingsville), Bellevue and McLaren Vale (originally Gloucester) were all established by the 1840s, and soon boasted the usual hotels, churches, post offices, blacksmiths and mills.
Wheat, barley and sheep grazing were succeeded by wattle bark stripping, almonds, orchards and vineyards, together with the farmhouses, outbuildings, mills, tanneries and wineries. From the 1850s the region developed as one of the State's major wine areas.
Produce was hauled by road to Adelaide, with stops at the several hotels, or shipped from points such as Seaford, Marino, Port Noarlunga and Aldinga. Several ships ran aground along this coastal stretch of the gulf leading to the colony’s main port. Between Port Willunga and Outer Harbor, six of the State’s declared historic wrecks lie offshore: Tigress (wrecked in 1848 near Seaford), Grecian (1850, Outer Harbor), Nashwauk (1855, Moana), Star of Greece (1888, Port Willunga), Norma (1907, Semaphore) and Santiago (1945, North Arm Port River).
Extensive suburban subdivision was initiated by the South Australian Housing Trust at Christies Beach in the 1960s, following the establishment of the Port Stanvac Oil Refinery. The Housing Trust, which was created in 1936, was also partly responsible for progressively infilling some of the older inner metropolitan areas, particularly to the north and west, then moving south. The Trust’s first six semi-detached workers’ houses are still rented at Rosewater. They set the pattern for thousands of ‘double units’ which were subsequently built on former farmland or sandhills.
The Housing Trust’s most dramatic transformation of farmland to suburb was made in the outer northern areas between Grand Junction Road and Gawler. A completely new satellite town of Elizabeth was opened in 1955. Other extensive housing estates were attached (in a manner more typically South Australian) to old rural villages such as Salisbury and Smithfield.
This new northern metropolitan area covers from west to east the coastal mangrove swamps, the wide expanse of the northern Adelaide Plains and the foothills of the Mount Lofty Ranges. For the first century after settlement at Adelaide, this was a predominantly rural landscape, with small service towns and villages. Transport services, through to the city along the road and rail routes, passed hotels such as the Smithfield Hotel, the Old Spot and the Highercombe Hotel.
However, as the area lay north of Grand Junction Road, the northern boundary of the original District of Adelaide, and north of the eastern Torrens Valley it was not considered part of the metropolitan area until after the Second World War. In the 130 square kilometres of the Tea Tree Gully District, for example, between 1854 and 1955 the population increased little more than a thousand, from 1500 to 2600. Twenty years later it stood at 60 000. Ian Auhl describes the rapid submerging of old Tea Tree Gully in the new, and observes: Stranded here and there in this tide of expansion ... is the bric-a-brac of another century—a leaning blacksmith's shed, a crumbling wine cellar or flour mill, a mud-and-straw cottage or a shed ... And here and there, like country cousins among the modern homes, are some of the farmhouses of the old Tea Tree Gully.
Gawler has so far retained its nineteenth century identity. The town is considered one of the State's most important historical towns due to its role in the State's history and to the preservation of a remarkable diversity of early buildings and structures.
Gawler was one of the first country towns to be created in South Australia. The site was chosen as part of a special survey along the North and South Para Rivers about which it was sensitively designed by Colonel Light in 1839. Gawler’s value as a ‘key to the north’ was quickly recognized, and by the 1850s it was an established commercial and industrial centre, serving both farming districts and its own growing population.
The response by Gawler residents to agricultural and industrial development from the 1870s created a boom period for the town which lasted until the turn of the century. This is reflected along Murray Street, the commercial centre of the town, and in the surviving industrial buildings. Gawler was rapidly extended beyond its original boundaries. New residential settlements were formed to the east and south, and an industrial-residential district was created to the west, centering on the Gawler Railway Station.
Traffic between the city and the large country town stimulated settlement along the ‘Great North Road’ just as along the Port Road, to Port Adelaide. Beyond Gepps Cross, the villages of Smithfield and Salisbury were created in the 1850s; Smithfield with its own central square and Salisbury along the Little Para River. Similarly, settlements were later established along the Port Wakefield Road. At Virginia, the Wheatsheaf Hotel was built as an early coach stop. None of these settlements developed industries or populations of any size, and their early buildings are, on the whole, modest affairs.
The few surviving pug and pisé houses or mud buildings in the region as a whole are significant for this very reason, representing vernacular building techniques, use of local materials and the unpretentious life-styles of the majority of the population.
Several well-preserved cottages with rendered pisé walls, dating from the 1840s and 1850s, stand in Kensington and Norwood, and others probably in North Adelaide, Hindmarsh and Thebarton. Mud or pug and native pine buildings and red gum slab huts remain in the northern and southern semi-rural districts. One of the State's largest surviving mud buildings stands beside the Little Para River, off the Port Wakefield Road at Bolivar.
The shortage of good building timber reinforced the tendency to use stone and brick, which was later noted as nearly universal. Limestone was the most commonly occurring local stone in the region and the earliest dwellings were usually made with brick or stone quoins containing random limestone rubble walls.
The Anglican Christ Church and Rectory and Bishop’s Court in North Adelaide form a distinctive group of simple but substantial limestone and sandstock brick buildings dating from 1849. Their design and materials ‘set a fashion which influenced the development of simple buildings throughout the whole of the capital of the State’. Sandstone and bluestone (a form of slate) were quarried in the foothills, and near Gawler and the Lower North. Willunga slate was used as roofing, replacing the stringybark shingles from the forests of the Mount Lofty Ranges. From the 1850s onwards, imported corrugated galvanized iron became—and has remained—the most popular and durable form of roofing. Its uses were so extensive that the built environment of Adelaide could be described as brick, stone and iron. As few small houses originally possessed more than four rooms, iron additions were tacked on over time, to include skillion-roofed kitchens and wash-houses.
Apart from the local building materials, however, and the early additions of verandahs, houses were similar in style to single-storey cottages in Britain. The similarities were deliberately sought in the larger houses. ‘Here [in South Australia], there was a tendency for settlers of substance to set up establishments as soon as possible which emulated in miniature, the design, dignity and permanence of the environment they had left’. Nevertheless, several of these larger houses unabashedly incorporated their humbler original single-storey sections—as can be seen clearly at the Brocas (Woodville and Mitcham Lawn (Torrens Park. About 1870 as the city’s second building boom began, lesser houses started to gain greater dimensions and the renowned Adelaide villa came into being. Fine examples of these villas were constructed until as late as 1920 in North Adelaide, Prospect, Unley, Walkerville and Kensington. Most verandahs and fences are bedecked with the cast-iron lacework known as ‘Gawler Lace’, as much of it was produced in Gawler’s foundries.
Villas were succeeded by bungalows but the use of stone and increasingly, brick has persisted. This reinforces the difference between metropolitan Adelaide and the many weatherboard houses of older suburbs in Sydney and Melbourne.
Adelaide’s heritage of domestic architecture is probably its most significant heritage. The survival of many thousands of nineteenth, as well as twentieth, century housing is one of the most important features of the region’s present character. It is vital that not only good examples of the different types of housing are preserved but that the distinctively nineteenth, and early twentieth, century atmosphere of entire suburbs is retained.