Commonwealth Bank of Australia Rundle Mall Adelaide Branch (former Shop)

Commonwealth Bank of Australia Rundle Mall Adelaide Branch (former Shop)

From butcher’s shop to bank, this building has accommodated some significant enterprises. It was built in 1879-80 for William Kither, at one time an Adelaide City Council alderman. Kither came to Adelaide from London in 1855 as a 12-year-old “poor boy”.

Working for his father in the butchery retail business, he succeeded to the family business in 1870. By 1880 he had rebuilt “at a large cost” the Rundle Street premises, thus demonstrating the success of his commercial enterprises.

In 1881 Kither was elected a member of the Adelaide City Council and alderman in 1883. In an 1895 article titled “Civic Chaps”, Quiz and the Lantern remarked on Kither's “aldermanic girth”, and continued: “When you have described him as being every inch an Alderman you seem to have gone as far as it is safe to go ... As a member of the City Council he does not shine with any particular lustre. He makes no pretence to oratory, and only a few weeks ago Quiz heard him talk about an ’ansom cab ... He has done a good deal for the poor of Adelaide too. Quiz remembers when he started a soup kitchen at his establishment a good many winters ago, and, without any device for self-advertising, proved a benefactor for the suffering. Quiz doesn’t like soup kitchens; in fact he has a general prejudice against all forms of charity. He regards it as criminal that in a new country like this anyone should be obliged to beg for bread. Unfortunately we have cases of necessity, and Alderman Kither, when he realised that there was actual want, generously rose to the occasion.”

A justice of the peace, a governor of the Adelaide Children’s Hospital and a philanthropist, Kither was described by Loyau as a man “of a genial and charitable disposition, and deservedly respected by all classes of the community”.

The architects for Kither’s building were Rees and Hornabrook, well known for their elaborate and creative structures. The premises captured popular attention when the South Australian Electric Light Company introduced the first commercial lighting in Adelaide at Kither’s establishment one Saturday night in 1882. The brilliant and steady light pleased customers and attracted crowds of onlookers between the hours of six o’clock and 11 o’clock.

A significant change in the building’s function occurred in 1926 when it became the workshops of the glass merchants Clarksons Limited, originally founded by H.L. Vosz in 1848. When Clarksons finally moved out of Rundle Street to Grenfell Street in 1958, it had been operating for a hundred years in three locations in Rundle Street.

Heinrich Ludwig Vosz migrated from Hamburg in 1848. Shortly after in 1851 he dashed off to the goldfields, where he had some success. He returned with the spoils to set up his own business at 82 Rundle Street. This was reputed to be Australia’s oldest glass, oil and colour business.

Until 1886 all paint materials were imported, but after this date basic house paint was produced at the premises. The company produced the first ready-mix paint in South Australia, Vosco paint. The paint-producing side of the firm was taken over in 1912 by the Australasian United Paint Co Ltd. Vosz died in 1886.

A.E. Clarkson, who had joined the firm as an office boy in 1889, later became manager and changed the firm’s name in 1915 to Clarkson Ltd. J.E. Williams. who joined the company in 1899, re-established the contracting side of the business and opened the famed leadlight and stained-glass department. He was its first artist. By the 1920s there were 26 people employed in the leadlight department, as well as two artists employed as stained-glass window and leadlight designers. The firm was one of the few to employ full-time artists and did so on a regular basis until the mid-1960s.

Clarksons became the agent for English stained-glass designers William Morris and Co Ltd, the business of which “was founded in 1861 to revive the lost arts of the Middle Ages, and to combat the degraded past tastelessness of the early Victorian Era”.

Clarkson Ltd dominated stained-glass manufacture in South Australia against competition from the firms of Thomson and Harvey (established 1898) and later, L.G. Abbott.

Clarksons made alterations in 1932 to the premises, including removing the balcony. There have been further changes, particularly since 1958, when the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia bought the building.

Its chief glory is the façade, with the first floor still substantially original. The stuccoed enrichments to Corinthian pilasters, cornice, parapet and surrounds to openings are in excellent order, although there have been many alterations to the ground floor, including the addition of a canopy/verandah. The decorated parapet and stuccoed dressings contrast attractively with the squared sandstone walling of the first-floor facade. The parapet features large urns.


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Because of the scale and style this building frontage is a significant element in Rundle Mall.

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Images of Commonwealth Bank of Australia Rundle Mall Adelaide Branch (former Shop)

  • Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia, 2014
Rees and Hornabrook
Building materials
Brick, Stone, Sandstone
Architectural styles
2 Victorian Period (c. 1840–c. 1890), 2.1 Georgian
1879 - 1880 

Additional Works

Alterations, including removal of balcony

Construction commenced
Construction completed

Alterations since became part of Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Construction commenced
Construction completed
Architecture and design features
parapet, stucco, pilsater, pediment
Engineering features
Rundle Mall
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
William Kither
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Commercial, Office
AS2482 classification
11510 - Business House - Offices
Public Access
Business/trading hours
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 6013/8 F121254 A2
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
3 Developing a City Economy
3.1.4 Discovery of Gold in Victoria
3.3 Financing Adelaide
3.3.2 Banking
5.1 Local Government
5.1.1 Formation of a City Administration
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • Burgess, H.T., Cyclopedia of South Australia, Vol. 1, 1909, p. 447; Clarkson Ltd., A history of
  • Morris stained glass, 1925; Donovan, P., & J., A guide to stained glass windows, 1983, pp.
  • 17-18; Loyau, G.E., Notable South Australians, 1885, pp. 74, 110; MLSA, Historical photographs (Town Acre 85); Observer, 13 May 1882; Quiz, 28 February 1895; South Australian Register, 9 November 1878, 1 January 1879, 14 July 1879; Ward, A.N., The history of Clarkson Ltd., (pamphlet), c. 1970.

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