House at 263-264 North Terrace, Adelaide

House at 263-264 North Terrace, Adelaide

From the 1880s it became increasingly fashionable for medical men to build professional rooms on North Terrace. By the early 20th century, several combined substantial residences with surgeries created a handsome residential streetscape along southern North Terrace.

Dr John Fisher’s premises, among the earliest of such residences and purpose-built surgeries, is one of the very few that have survived the almost total transformation of that streetscape from residential to commercial use.

Reported the South Australian Register at the time: “Dr Fisher has completed during the year [1872] two residences on North Terrace . . . On the basement floor are cellar and pantries and two large summer living rooms. On the ground floor there are handsome arch pilasters, caps, and bases separating the front portion from that from which the staircase rises to the first floor, where are the kitchen, scullery, pantries and larder. The western house is provided with a surgery and waiting room approached directly from the street, and is designed specially as a medical man’s residence. The one pair floor has bedrooms, nursery, bathroom and every convenience. The design is Italian in outline, and the veranda and [canopy] which are ornate and pleasing, give a tone to the buildings generally. The architects were Messrs English and Rees of Temple Chambers. The work has been carried out by Dr Fisher, with the assistance of a clerk of works, under the superintendence of the architects, and has involved an expenditure of about £2500.”

Dr Fisher arrived in South Australia in 1851 and practised at Salisbury, where he was also a justice of the peace and health officer for the Munno Para District Council and Yatala Prison. He lived only briefly in the western house of the pair on North Terrace, between 1872 and 1874. From 1876 he was a resident surgeon for the Wallaroo Mines at Kadina. He died in 1879 at his house in Hutt Street.

The design of his residence may have been one of the last executed while Rowland Rees was still in partnership with Thomas English. In 1872 after the partnership dissolved, Rees became an engineer for the Holdfast Bay Railway and in the same year entered parliament, representing Burra Burra. He also became minister of education in 1878. Thomas English was commissioner of public works between 1868-67 and mayor of Adelaide. After practising with Rees, English went into partnership with George Kiewitz Soward until his death in 1884.

For many years the residence continued to be used by the medical profession, most notably by the Chinese specialist Dr Lum Yow. Dr Lum Yow, whose advertisements for Cure All tonic were a regular feature in the newspapers, was associated with the residence from 1909 until about 1934. His memorial is one of the largest in West Terrace Cemetery.

The North Terrace building is centred about a central passage that creates a rear access. This design was once common in Adelaide but few examples remain.

Substantial bay windows enliven the building and bracketed eaves pick up the window detailing in a manner similar to the design at the Tivoli Hotel, also attributed to Rowland Rees. Unfortunately the finest feature of the building, its balcony and subsidiary verandahs, have disappeared, and overzealous cleaning has removed almost all the façade bluestone’s colour.


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This building is significant as one of the last remaining examples of a purpose built combined surgery and residence.

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Images of House at 263-264 North Terrace, Adelaide

  • Houses at 263-265 North Terrace, 2014
English and Rees
Building materials
Stone, Limestone
Architectural styles
2 Victorian Period (c. 1840–c. 1890)
1872 -
Architecture and design features
Engineering features
East End
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Dr John Fisher
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Commercial, Office, 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 5085/918 F1660 A2 CT 5128/559 F1660 A2
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
3.6 Professional Services
3.6.2 Early Hospitals and the Medical Profession
4.7 Memorable Development Eras
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • ACA, Assessments, Smith Survey 1880, fieldbook No. 10, p. 52; Lewis, H.J., Salisbury, South Australia, a history of town and district, 1980, p. 123; Loyau, G.E., Notable South Australians, 1885, p.
  • 181; MLSA, Historical photographs (Town Acre 27); South Australiandirectories, 1880 onwards; South Australian Institute of Architects Quarterly Bulletin
  • January-March 1958, pp. 15-16; South Australian Register, 8 January 1873, 27 January 1879.

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