Adelaide Boys High School

Adelaide Boys High School

At a state and local level the Adelaide High School is historically significant, both because of its link with the state’s first high school, and as an example of post-war development. Its style and design reflect the influences of architectural modernism.

The building embodies the later development of state education in South Australia. Its antecedent was the original Model School in Grote Street. That school, built in 1873, is renowned as the basis for the design and erection of subsequent state schools required by the Education Act of 1875.

This building was added to by the later-established Teachers’ Training School, begun in 1876, and the state secondary school called the The Advanced School for Girls built in Grote Street in 1891. In 1908 these three institutions were amalgamated to form Adelaide High School.

Increasing enrolment causing overcrowding led to a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, which reported in 1938 that conditions were most unsatisfactory. The school was housed in five buildings in three locations, with playing fields located nearly a kilometre away from the Grote Street site.

A decision was made to erect a new school building. The first site selected was “contiguous with the Exhibition Building adjacent Frome Road”. This site was rejected and the present site endorsed.

Plans for the new boys’ high school were originally prepared by the Public Works architect-in-chief. Although approved by the minister of education, the plans were rejected because of the absence of an assembly hall. It was then decided that a competition for the most suitable design, incorporating a school hall, should be held.

In 1940, Sydney architects Edward B. Fitzgerald and John K. Brogan won a nationwide competition that attracted more than 60 designs. However, the outbreak of war delayed building until 1947.

The new school, built by A.W. Baulderstone for £90,000, opened in 1951. The magazine Architecture described it as follows: “Two radial classroom wings converged upon a curved block, which forms the main feature of the building facing West Terrace. The two wings are linked at the western end by a workshop section, thus enclosing a spacious quadrangle and protecting it from prevailing winds. One liberally planned area for outdoor assembly and exercise purposes is considered more generally useful for a Boys’ School than the two smaller areas some planners submitted, these being better suited to a mixed school. The two class-room flanks bearing in toward the office or administrative zone tend to economise in corridor length, and so reduce student traffic within the building.”

The parapet walls hiding the roofs, continuous horizontal window lines, curved elements and corners are examples of the “modern” aesthetic , which had as its basic philosophy the formal recognition of each function.

In 1977-78 the school became co-educational and in 1982 new additions, sympathetic to the original, were opened.


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Adelaide Boys High School is an exceptional example of post war architectural modernism.

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Images of Adelaide Boys High School

  • Adelaide Boy's High School
Edward B Fitzgerald, John K Brogan
A W Baulderstone
Building materials
Architectural styles
4 Post-War Period (c. 1940–1960), 4.3 Modern
1947 - 1951 

Additional Works

Building Additions

Construction commenced
Construction completed
Architecture and design features
Curved elements, parapet
Engineering features
West End
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Education, School
AS2482 classification
14040 - Secondary School/College
Public Access
Business/trading hours
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5721/686 H105100 S543
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
3 Developing a City Economy
3.1.10 Moderism
5.2 State Government
5.2.1 Creating State Government Institutions and Facilities
7.1 Schools
7.1.3 Primary and secondary schools
First State High School
Australian Curriculum references
Year 6: Australia as a Nation


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