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.