Adelaide Benevolent and Strangers' Friend Society Houses

Adelaide Benevolent and Strangers' Friend Society Houses

Philanthropy played an important role in social welfare in the nineteenth and early twentieth

centuries. This complex was built in 1906 for the Adelaide Benevolent and Strangers' Friend Society reputedly Adelaide's oldest philanthropic society. This was formed in 1849 ' . . . to relieve the sick and indigent, especially among the newly arrived immigrants'. The society has been rightly held up as a worthy ' . . . instance of humanitarianism, initiated by practical idealists in the days when the State was young and steadfastly held to by those of similar mind and capabilities through the years'. In 1869 R. Berry, a member of the committee, who could see the difficulty that the poor would find in keeping a roof over their heads in times of rising prices, suggested acquiring small homes and letting them to the needy at small rentals. Through his efforts the society bought a row of cottages and let them to widows and poor tenants at two shillings and sixpence a week. The housing scheme was placed on a permanent footing in 1876 when a public appeal was launched and several other rows of cottages were bought and let. In 1906 land was purchased in Stanley Street, and these cottages were erected soon afterwards. Efforts were made to separate ' . . . the deserving from the underserving case', with special consideration given to women who, by death or desertion of their husbands, reared their children in poverty. The society was non-partisan in its selection of tenants, the sole criterion being need. In the early years, the society worked in conjunction with the City Mission whose missioners often investigated individual cases. Most of the tenants of the North Adelaide cottages were likely to have been widows from the West End.

The architect for the cottages in Stanley Street was Alfred Wells. Wells was solidly established as one of Adelaide's leading architects with a string of large public buildings to his credit, including the Adelaide Arcade, the Exhibition Building (now demolished) and parts of the Adelaide Children's Hospital.


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The complex is of simple but competent vernacular construction. It is one of the larger working-class rows to survive intact and it also complements the adjoining cottage homes.

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Images of Adelaide Benevolent and Strangers' Friend Society Houses

  • Row Houses at 102-120 Stanley Street
Alfred Wells
Building materials
Stone, Bluestone
Architectural styles
3 Federation Period (c. 1890–c. 1915)
1906 -
Architecture and design features
Engineering features
Lower North Adelaide
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Adelaide Benevolent and Strangers' Friend Society
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Dwelling, Cottage
AS2482 classification
16010 - House
Public Access
Exterior only
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5283/867 F156173 A4 CT 5592/40 F183943 A671 CT 5603/877 F184026 A754 CT 5682/665 F184024 A752 CT 5682/666 F184028 A756 CT 5848/375 F184031 A759 CT 5848/377 F184029 A757 CT 5848/376 F184030 A758 CT 5848/373 F183944 A672 CT 5848/378 F184027 A755 CT 5848/374 F183950 A678
NTSA file exists
Heritage Status
State Heritage listed
State heritage listing
State Heritage listed
Date of State heritage listing
Local heritage listing
Date of Local heritage listing
NTSA listing
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
2 Peopling a city
2.2.1 Early Colonial Settlement
4.4 Residential Development, Building Types and Living Conditions
4.4.4 Philanthropic Housing
Social Welfare
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • ACA, Annual report 1906, p. 77; Adelaide Benevolent and Strangers' Friend Society, One
  • hundred years of benevolent work, 1849-1949, 1949, p. 10; Burgess, H.T., Cyclopedia of
  • South Australia, Vol. 2, 1909, pp. 71-2.

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