Beresford Arms Hotel

Beresford Arms Hotel

The Beresford Arms Hotel is the oldest surviving hotel building in South Australia. It was restored by the Adelaide City Council in the period after a fire severely damaged the structure. It is now once again a private residence.

The hotel is a rare example of the simple, vernacular structures which were built by the colonists in the earliest years of their frontier city. Inevitably most of these buildings were replaced by more solid and more elaborate structures, especially during the boom period of the 1870s and early 1880s and in the twentieth century. Hotels in particular were rebuilt as imposing two story buildings, and so it is all the more surprising that this humble, run-down house, which was originally an inn, should have survived as a direct link with the vernacular buildings of the 1840s.

The building, known as the Beresford Arms, was first licenced in 1840 with John Martin as landlord. J. Martin remained landlord for seven years but retained ownership for more than thirty while he devoted himself to storekeeping.

In 1849 the Beresford Arms was leased to James Ellery. It was assessed in the rate book of 1849 as approximately four times the value of adjoining residences, its substantial nature probably ensuring its survival. By 1851 the Beresford Arms was described as an eight roomed stone and brick house, annual value ₤45. In 1855 the inn was leased to Hugh Hall, followed by Henry Palmer for two years from 1856. In 1856 the name of the inn was changed to the Oddfellows Arms. During William Tidswell's occupation of the property in 1858, the interior was renovated and the 'long room' and the 'square room' being floored in 'a workmanlike manner'. The Oddfellows Arms ceased trading in 1861, the building (described as being of five rooms) is noted in the assessment as unoccupied. Through the 1860s the annual value dropped, indicating no improvements, and in 1873 John Martin sold it to Johannes Andreas Schrader (printer). In this period John Martin consolidated his financial interests in Rundle Street, home to the long lived John Martin's store.

The building is part of an early town acre subdivision.


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The historical significance of the house is enhanced by its association with John Martin whose later, larger business success was entrenched in the John Martin's Department Store which survived for more than 130 years until the flagship store in Rundle Mall closed in 1998.

John Martin seems to have arrived in South Australia in September 1839, buying the site of his house from Robert Milne in the following month. He then set about erecting the building which was completed in 1840 and is shown on the 1842 Kingston map, and sections of which probably still survive incorporated in the present buildings.

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Images of Beresford Arms Hotel

  • Beresford Arms, 2014
Building materials
Architectural styles
1 Old Colonial Period (1788–c. 1840)
1840 -
Architecture and design features
timber shingles, vernacular
Engineering features
South East Corner
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
John Martin
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Commercial, Hotel
AS2482 classification
10510 - Hotel - Motel - Inn
Public Access
Exterior only
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5881/568 F182013 A361
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
NTSA classified
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
2 Peopling a city
2.2.1 Early Colonial Settlement
3.5 Commercial, Marketing & Retail
3.5.5 A City of Pubs
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


Further reading

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