The club began in the former house of Judge Cooper, which dated from about 1840 and was renovated for its new function. Although it was partially philanthropic in nature, membership was required to make use of all its facilities. The location was deliberately chosen so that members were semi-isolated from the then licentious activities of the Light Square area and the many hotels (about 120) operating in Adelaide during the 1870s. The bluestone wings were built in 1871 and 1872 due to expanding membership.
Incorporated in 1878, the club buildings and associated land were sold in 1899 to the Salvation Army. The buildings became the nucleus of its Prison Gate Brigade Home until 1910, when the remodelled former home of Judge Cooper was demolished and the present William Booth Memorial Home built.
The Australian branch of the Salvation Army began in Adelaide’s Botanic Park on September 5, 1880. The movement spread quickly and by 1883 it had built the first Prison Gate Home in Carlton, Victoria. The present buildings in Whitmore Square represent the growth and maturity of the Army in Australia.
Designed by James Cumming, the wing to the west was built by Charles Farr in 1871 for £476. In December 1872 the corresponding eastern wing, also designed by Cumming and built by C. Farr for £540, was opened. Internally this wing was divided into a dining room 40 feet by 25 feet, and a smoking room 25 feet by 16 feet by 18 feet high.
Both bluestone wings were originally identical and are naturally complementary. The buildings are in reasonable order, although the eastern wing has been affected by salt damp that has been exacerbated by the application of render and hard pointing