Gilles Street Primary School (1899 building only)

Gilles Street Primary School (1899 building only)

This school, erected in 1899, is associated with the earlier residential nature of this part of the city. Plans for a new school in Gilles Street were first conceived when a site was bought in November 1881, but the school was not begun until mid-1899. Charles Edward Owen Smyth was the architect and E Fricker the contractor.

Built for £3182, the school was completed around Easter time in 1900. A single storey of brick construction with Murray Bridge stone banding, it could accommodate 550 children in three large schoolrooms, two classrooms and an infants classroom with gallery. In 1925 it underwent extensive remodeling, with additional classrooms being built separately. The windows of the original building were also modified. To the front they were all made longer, while two sets of double windows became triple windows on either side of the centre gable.

C.E. Omen Smyth was appointed superintendent of Public Buildings on July 1, 1886, a position he held until 1920. Pragmatic and confident, he was responsible for the design of several well-known public buildings constructed when treasury funds were meagre.

This building displays prominent gables and roof form and is similar to that of earlier model schools. It is distinctive because of its use of load-bearing brick walls rather than the bluestone masonry more commonly found in the 1880s. The style is aptly abstracted from aspects of the Gothic Revival (or at least an Arts and Crafts version of it) and continues the architectural idiom of earlier model schools. The building is notable for its high-quality brickwork and bevel-edged sandstone dressings, and the gables with well finished moulded brick detailing are reminiscent of “Tudor” half-timberwork.


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The school building is a significant example of early public primary school education in a residential area.

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Images of Gilles Street Primary School (1899 building only)

  • Gilles Street Primary School, 2014
Charles Edward Owen Smith
E Fricker
Building materials
Architectural styles
3 Federation Period (c. 1890–c. 1915), 3.10 Arts and Crafts
1899 -
Architecture and design features
Engineering features
South East Corner
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Government of South Australia
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Education, School
AS2482 classification
14050 - Primary School
Public Access
Opening hours only
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5834/930 T105101 T644
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
7.1 Schools
7.1.3 Primary and secondary schools
Osmond Gilles
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • MLSA, Bierbaum files; PRO, GRG 38/16/1; Register, 2 October 1925

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