Draper Memorial Methodist Church Manse

Draper Memorial Methodist Church Manse

This former manse was built in 1883 for the Draper Memorial Church in Gilbert Street, and was erected three years after Daniel James Draper’s tragic death in January1866. Draper was minister of the Adelaide circuit between 1846 and 1851, but more importantly as a Wesleyan ministin Australia for 30 years, he distinguished himself by his “sagacious leadership”. He was drowned when the ship on which he and his wife were returning from England was caught in a severe storm in the Bay of Biscay. Only 17 of 263 people survived.

The architect of the manse was Frederick Wilhelm Dancker. His tender for “building a Wesleyan Parsonage on South Terrace” appeared in the South Australian Register of July 18, 1882. This standard two-storey double-fronted building is distinguished by elaborate stuccoed finish to the surrounds of openings. The ground floor paired windows topped by a broken pediment are notable, as is the broad front verandah (added later) with central pediment and smaller flanking pediments to the balcony. The plaster cornice to caves is also unusual and distinctive.

For 40 years Draper Memorial Church remained a “strong church”, but with the movement of people out of the city decline set in and the church was sold in 1927 to an apostolic denomination. In 1971 it was demolished.

Missioner Reverend W.H. Cann was responsible for turning the manse into the Adelaide Central Mission Boys’ Hostel in 1925, providing temporary accommodation for about 30 young men from the age of 16 years. Eligibility for boys from interstate and overseas was open to those “who desired a Christian home in the city”. To provide the necessary facilities, £5000 was spent in building additions on the manse and it was officially opened by the Lord Mayor on July 3,1926. It was not long before the Adelaide Central Mission claimed they “could well do with a second home”.

Accommodation provided by this hostel was only one of the many forms of accommodation and aid that the Adelaide Central Mission provided during a period of a worsening economic depression in the late 1920s.

In 1928 the hostel administration reported “many of the young fellows who have been out of work have been assisted, not only in the matter of board, but to a situation ... All the time they are coming and going.” As the problem of unemployment and destitution grew, the Adelaide Central Mission, with its new missioner Samuel Forsyth, in 1929 thought of a way to alleviate some of the hardships of unemployment by setting up the innovative Kuitpo Industrial Colony, in June 1930. The mission leased 470 acres from the Government to set up a farming community accommodating between 70 and 80 men at a time. The aim of the scheme was to enable unemployed men to raise as much of their own foodstuff as possible, and to keep themselves fit physically, mentally, and morally during their period of unemployment.

Much of the success of the Adelaide Central Mission in the 1920s and 1930s was due to the leadership of Reverend W.H. Cann and then by Reverend Samuel Forsyth.

Reverend W.H. Cann came to South Australia in 1887 and lived at Draper Manse for a short time before its conversion into a boys’ hostel. Before taking up position as missioner to the Adelaide Central Mission he held several country and city appointments. When he retired after 18 years at Mission he had gained a well-earned reputation as a money-raiser.

Recently the former Draper Manse has been associated with the Arts Council of South Australia, which came into existence in 1946 through the energies of John Horner, Professor Bishop and Colin Ballantyne. It operated on a small scale without any support from the state government. In 1952 it suspended all activity, remaining in name only until there was change in government policy.

In 1965 the local organisation of the South Australian division was incorporated into the federal Arts Council of Australia. With a grant of £1000 from the Gulbenkian Foundation, the South Australian division was revived and on a small scale began arts activities in country areas. In 1965 the state government's contribution to the newly incorporated body was a mere £200, but with voluntary help and meagre funds the division established 20 branches throughout the state. With a new state government in 1970, the annual grant rose to $19,000. By 1984 this had risen to $554,000. Since the early 1980s the old Draper Manse has been the headquarters for a network of 36 branches throughout the state staffed by volunteer committees and with a membership of about 3000 people.


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The building is aesthetically significant as a fine example of Georgian architecture. The building is also historically significant for it's association with philanthropic support during an era of depression.

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Images of Draper Memorial Methodist Church Manse

  • Draper Memorial Methodist Church Manse
Frederick Wilhelm Dancker
Building materials
Stone, Bluestone
Architectural styles
2 Victorian Period (c. 1840–c. 1890), 2.1 Georgian
1883 -
Architecture and design features
cast iron, frieze, stucco, column
Engineering features
South West Corner
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Wesleyan Methodist Church
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Religious, Rectory/Manse
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 5306/944 F163860 A94
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 registered
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
2.2 Immigration
3.1 Economic Cycles
3.1.5 Farming Boom
6.3 Worshipping
6.3.3 Other Religious Activities
Reverend W H Cann, Reverend Samuel Forsyth
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • ACA, Assessments; Australian dictionary of biography, Vol. 1, 1966, pp. 321-3; Brissenden, A., Arts Council of S.A. (pamph), 1976; Brokensha, P., & Tonks, A., Culture and community
  • - economics and expectations of the arts in South Australia, 1986, pp. 83-4; Faull, J. & Young, G., People, places and buildings, 1986, p. 103; Hunt, A., This side of heaven, 1986, pp. 38, 250; MLSA, Adelaide Central Mission, annual reports 1926-30, Historical photographs (Town Acre 691); South Australian Register, 18 July 1882.

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