Barker Kindergarten

Barker Kindergarten

“The teachings in the Free Kindergarten are laying foundations of citizenship, self-respect and respect for others, in the pliable minds of the little children, a training that is vitally necessary in a young progressive country like Australia – a training that will form the characters of future men and women whom Australia will be proud to possess.” These aims of the kindergarten movement were recorded by the general secretary Doris A. Beesham in the Annual report of 1926-27. Barker Kindergarten was constructed in the same year, as were other early purpose-built kindergartens for the Kindergarten Union of South Australia.

The Kindergarten Union was founded in 1905 and quickly expanded under the guidance of Lillian de Lissa. The first kindergarten was opened in a worker’s cottage in Franklin Street in 1906. From 1921 the Little Citizens’ Free Kindergarten was conducted at North Adelaide in the Archer Street Methodist hall. By 1924-25 the union reported, “the mothers hope some day to have a building as good as the Keith Sheridan Kindergarten and are working hard with that end in view”. Two members of the North Adelaide committee, Miss Eleanor Kate Barker and her sister-in-law Mrs Alfred Barker, decided to pay for the construction of the kindergarten, in memory of John and Alfred Barker, father and husband respectively, both of whom died in 1925.

John Barker of Barker and Co. was an auctioneer and stock agent, a businessman “of the strictest integrity”. He was modest regarding his own associations with philanthropic organisations but his great interest was horse-racing. He was associated with the South Australian Jockey Club for more than 30 years, and its chairman for more than 10. He was also a director of the Adelaide Steamship Company.

The Barker Kindergarten was designed by E.H. McMichael and built by M.C. Richardson. The president of the Little Citizens' Free Kindergarten, Mrs Nutter Thomas, opened the new kindergarten on August 2, 1926.


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The building displayed detailing typical of its period, such as gables with cement dressings. The large return verandah, brick construction and paned windows give it a distinctly domestic appearance that it retains to this day as there have been no major alterations since it was first built.

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Images of Barker Kindergarten

Eric McMichael
M C Richardson
Building materials
Architectural styles
3.12 Inter-War Period (c. 1915–c. 1940)
1925 - 1926/08/02
Architecture and design features
Engineering features
Upper North Adelaide
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Little Citizens' Free Kindergarten
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Education, School
AS2482 classification
14060 - Pre-primary School - Kindergarten
Public Access
Opening hours only
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5742/47 F183510 A238
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
6.1 Living and Dying in Adelaide
6.1.2 Childhood
7.1 Schools
7.1.2 Pre-schools and Kindergartens
John Barker
Australian Curriculum references
Year 6: Australia as a Nation


  • Advertiser, 22 May 1925; Builder, 10 March 1926, p. 17, 17 March 1926, p. 15; Jones, H. (ed), Jubilee history of the Kindergarten Union of South Australia, 1975, pp. 6-10; MLSA, Kindergarten Union of South Australia Inc., annual reports; Register, 22 May, 1925.

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