Fennescey House Offices

Fennescey House Offices

Fennescey House was built as an education office for the Catholic Church. It highlights religious organisations’ efforts to maintain an education system apart from the one the state provided.

Mary and John Fennescey, “the greatest benefactors the Archdiocese of Adelaide has ever known”, donated £20,000 to fund the building of Fennescey House. The Fennescey family settled on Yorke Peninsula before the end of the 19th century, successfully working the land. John and Mary Fennescey became associated with the church in Adelaide only when they retired to Glenelg during the 1920s.

The Catholic Church had long wanted to buy the properties adjoining St Francis Xavier cathedral. This donation made it possible to buy the land and build a centre for Catholic education. The plans provided for Catholic teachers’ conferences, a chapter room for clergy conferences, and offices for Catholic action works.

Catholic education became a priority in the early 1860s, when Mother Mary MacKillop and Father Julian Tenison Woods did much to bring their shared vision of religious education to fruition. However, it wasn’t until the Catholic Education Congress of 1836 and the construction of this education centre in Wakefield Street in 1940 that central organisation and implementation of a uniform religious education occurred.

Fennescey House was built by F. Fricker Ltd to the design of H. Jory. It is built of tuck-pointed dimensioned bluestone, with dressed limestone to string courses, parapets and surrounds to openings. The high-quality building is a late example of the mason’s craft and recalls the parish ecclesiastical Gothic Revival style. Its symmetry, emphasised by the central gablet and the high parapet, is distinctive and suggests a much earlier construction date. In style and materials it relates well to the neighbouring cathedral and the office accommodation to the east.


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Fennescey House is significant for it's association with the development of the Catholic education system in South Australia.

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Images of Fennescey House Offices

  • Fennescey House Offices, 2014
H Jory
F Fricker
Building materials
Stone, Bluestone, Limestone
Architectural styles
3.12 Inter-War Period (c. 1915–c. 1940), 3.22 Interwar Gothic
1940 -
Architecture and design features
dressings, string course, parapet, Gothic Revival
Engineering features
Victoria Square- Tarndanyangga
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Catholic Church
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 5764/46 D17208 A3
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 classified
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
6.3 Worshipping
6.3.2 Church schools
Australian Curriculum references
Year 6: Australia as a Nation


  • ACA, BSO, index and file No. 92, Digest of Proceedings, 19 August 1940; MLSA, Historical photographs (Town Acre 339), Southern Cross, 18 April 1941, 11 June 1948, Catholic Education Congress 1936.

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