The building represents state-of-the-art in late 19th century hospital architecture, its provision of isolation wards and a bacteriological laboratory illustrating the major advances in medical care e being made at that time. The interior has been upgraded in line with medical advances since then.
Dr Allan Campbell first promoted the idea of a children’s hospital and helped to establish it, maintaining his involvement by equipping the new operating theatres in the Angas Building, giving lectures, and continually promoting further improvements in line with new medical discoveries. There was a need for isolation wards, and in February 1896 Dr Campbell produced sketch plans for a building incorporating these and a new bacteriological laboratory. This placed the hospital at the forefront of medical care. It had only recently been discovered that many diseases were caused by bacteria and this revolutionised surgery and medicine.
The Honourable J.J. Duncan promised a donation if it were matched by public donations, and Dr Campbell opened a successful public appeal. Plans were drawn up under the direction of Alfred Wells and a contract for £5000 awarded to Walter Torode. Master builder Walter Torode described that work in his memoirs as his first important contract in the City of Adelaide: “Strange to relate the cottage in which I was born stood previously at the north end of this important building. This contract gave me the opportunity of introducing the beautiful freestone from my quarry at Stirling Point (leased from the Stirling District Council). Also some first-class slate stone for the foundations and walls below the course. This building as completed is a monument of first-class stonework, also of special interest to me as previously mentioned. Little did 1 think when using the paddock adjacent to my house as a playground on which the Angas Buildings now stand that in due course of my life at 40 years of age I should have the honour to be the Contractor for the Allan Campbell Building.”
The Allan Campbell Building, which also included a detached cottage for nurses, was on two blocks of land with frontages to Kermode and Poole streets (King William Road). This construction resulted in a reorientation of the Adelaide Children’s Hospital’s public face from its original eastwards orientation to Poole Street, with an uninterrupted frontage extending along that street from Brougham Place to Kermode Street.
The design reveals Queen Anne influences and high-quality workmanship. The stonework is particularly fine, as is evident in the relieving arches over main windows, and the rock-faced mullions and transoms. The building makes an interesting contribution to the streetscape with its verandas, gables and spire. These features and the human scale provide an important foil to the modern buildings adjacent and opposite.