House at 144 South Terrace, Adelaide

House at 144 South Terrace, Adelaide

The original section of this building was erected in 1860-61 for Thomas Sparnon, who leased it to Albion James Tolley in 1863. For a time during the mid-1870s it was occupied by Jefferson Pickman Stow, a notable businessman, followed by Dr John E. Joyce who established the Adelaide Eye Infirmary.

A.J. Tolley, the “grandfather” of the present well-known company of A.E. and F. Tolley, first set up in business after he and his wife, son and two daughters arrived in South Australia in July 1853. The company quickly expanded when A.J. Tolley’s eldest son joined the family business. The names of the sons, Albion Everard and Frederick, are perpetuated in the present-day company name. Two other sons went on to form the brandy distilling firm of Tolley Scott and Tolley, while two more sons set up in partnership as solicitors under the name of Tolley and Tolley. A.J. Tolley lived in the South Terrace residence, which he called Sunbury House, until 1866 when he and his family returned to England for six years.

In the late 1870s J.P. Stow, son of Reverend T.Q. Stow and brother of Justice Stow, lived on the premises for a short time. He is remembered for his long service with the Advertiser, followed by his appointment as stipendiary magistrate in 1886 to the entire south-eastern district of South Australia. J.P. Stow was also known as a “staunch free-trader, and advocate of a property tax, and an uncompromising opponent of the Sunday closing clauses of the Licensed Victualler Acts”.

In 1879 when E.H. Bayer and A.S. Clark bought the residence, the noted general practitioner Dr John F. Joyce became its tenant. He remained until the early 1880s when he purchased land on Greenhill Road. There he constructed a building to contain the Adelaide Eye Infirmary, Queens Hospital for General Diseases and Private Residence for Married Ladies, now known as Annesley College.

A new facade added in 1881 was possibly designed by E.H. Bayer (A.J. Tolley’s son-in-law) during his ownership. This building is important for its two main periods of construction, the stages being marked by differences in ceiling heights.


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The building is an attractive example from the high Victorian boom period and is characterised by bluestone rubble walling, cast-iron enriched veranda and balcony, and stuccoed dressings.

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Images of House at 144 South Terrace, Adelaide

Building materials
Stone, Bluestone
Architectural styles
2 Victorian Period (c. 1840–c. 1890), 2.6 Filigree
1860 - 1861 

Additional Works

Facade Redesigned by E H Bayer

Construction commenced
Construction completed
Architecture and design features
cast iron, stucco, quoins, spandrel, frieze
Engineering features
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Thomas Spornon
Original occupant
Albion James Tolley
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Dwelling, House
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 5503/440 F182637 A175
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
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
2.3 City Dwellers: Householders, Boarders and Tenants
3.4 Manufacturing
J P Stow, A E and F Tolley
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • ACA, Smith Survey 1880; G. Bishop, 24 August 1988, additional historical information; Frogley, M.A., A.E. & F Tolley story 1974; Loyau, G.E., Notable South Australians, 1885, p. 77; Morrison, W.F., The Aldine history of South Australia, Vol. 2, 1890, p. 542; Payne, G.P., & Cosh, E., History of Unley, 1972, p. 77.

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