After plans to establish a hospital administered by the Dominican Sisters fell through, the Sisters managed the North Adelaide Private Hospital. In 1900, a small group of Little Company of Mary nuns arrived from Sydney to take over the hospital, described as “a warren of passages and rooms”. The nuns were only allowed to live in it until they built a brand new hospital as the building was condemned by the health authorities.
Prominent Adelaide doctors were associated with the North Adelaide Private Hospital from the beginning of the Little Company of Mary’s involvement, and by the end of its first year it was registered as a training school for nurses. The foundation stone for the new hospital was laid on December 15,1905, and the building opened in 1906 when 22 patients were transferred from the old hospital to the new.
The name Calvary Hospital was described by the Southern Cross, 13 November 1936 as fitting for the Little Company of Mary since its rules directed members to order their whole lives, their prayers, and works of charity and self-sacrifice to the end “that the Divine Mercy may surround the dying. In the company of Mary, at the foot of the Cross, with humility and simplicity sharing in Marys maternal office, the Sisters attended the deathbeds of those who have the happiness of breathing their last at ‘Calvary’.”
The hospital soon expanded. The foundation stone for the east wing extension was laid on July 11,1917. Soon after its completion in 1918 a nurses home was also built. The foundation stone for a new convent was laid on October 6, 1929.
During the 1930s the chapel at Calvary Hospital was built. It was designed by Louis Laybourne Smith, a partner in Woods Bagot Laybourne Smith and Irwin. He also designed St Cuthbert’s Church of England at Prospect in 1914; the Adult Deaf and Dumb Mission building on South Terrace in 1928; and the War Memorial on North Terrace.
The chapel building recalls a basilica of the Byzantine period, its severe and simple exterior relieved by Romanesque detailing. The gable decoration is simple, with a pronounced corbel table in well-detailed brickwork. The interior is lavishly detailed, with Corinthian and Doric columns, a coffered ceiling and a gallery enhanced by statues.