By the early 20th century, D. and J. Fowler was one of Australia’s major retail grocers and a substantial economic concern in South Australia. Its further interests included the Adelaide Milling Co (purchased in 1895), Adelaide Bottle Co (1912), Robur Tea Co and Walton’s Ltd (both bought in 1931).
When a new factory was needed in about 1905, Fowlers commissioned Adelaide-born architect Frank Counsell, who had worked with the Victorian Railways Department and the public service in Perth. Counsell had been with Adelaide architects Cumming, Davies and Cavanagh and worked for the engineer-in-chief before starting his own practice in 1903.
The factory was completed during 1906. An employee later recalled that the builders, James King and Son, subcontracted the brickwork to W. Sander and Sons.
According to family sources, the original lion was carved by stonemason John Patrick Jackson. The present lion on the parapet is a copy installed in 1988, the original having moved with Fowlers.
The architectural design and careful construction of this large brick factory reflects the success of D. and J. Fowler. It was in use from 1906 until about the time the company was taken over by Southern Farmers Ltd in 1982-83.
The architectural importance of the factory building lies in its high-quality brick detailing and the well-handled composition of the facade. The main frontage on North Terrace was symmetrical. However this was compromised by the demolition of an eastern section for road widening in 1966. The elevation is broken into a number of bays by brick columns from which spring the parapet and crowning cornice.
The former factory is a landmark on the road approaches along North Terrace, and is one of the few remaining major industrial buildings in the city. The building is now a popular live music venue run by Arts SA.