National Mutual Building

National Mutual Building

For most of its lifetime this building has been associated with the National Mutual Life Association. In 1968 it was taken over by the Bank of Adelaide, which was subsumed in the ANZ Bank in 1979.

The National Mutual Life Association of Australia began in Melbourne in 1869 and is the oldest such institution in Victoria. It opened a branch in Adelaide in 1878 and erected its first building in Victoria Square in 1884. The company soon realised that the commercial hub of Adelaide was closer to Hindley Street and in 1898 had local architect Edward Davies design a bigger and more florid building designed.

Edward Davies was born in Wales in 1852 and travelled to Melbourne as a baby with his parents. He was apprenticed to Melbourne architect Albert Purchas and then joined the architectural branch of the Victorian Education Department. He came to South Australia in 1876 and worked as a senior draughtsman in the South Australian Education Department under E.J. Woods. He then entered the architectural firm of James Cummings, later became a partner, and by 1884 had set up his own practice. Davies designed Clayton Church and the East Adelaide Congregational Church, and the former head office of the Savings Bank of South Australia at 23 Currie Street (1902). He died in 1927.

This building is unusual in its design and detailing. The arcading on the facade is not common in Adelaide. Although the design is largely classical, the architect has drawn from many sources for the detailing of the upper gablets, the elliptical arches and the semi-circular headed openings. The steeply pitched roof is distinctive on King William Street, as is the dressed limestone facade with granite accents (now painted) and its sharp interplay of light and shade.

The original building has been modified by the redevelopment in 1986-87 of this and adjacent sites for the State Bank. The building now comprises of offices and a bar in the basement.


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This building is historically significant for it's association with an early institution. The building's distinctive architecture also contributes to it's significance.

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Images of National Mutual Building

  • National Mutual Life Assurance Building, 2014
Edward Davies
Building materials
Render, Stucco, Stone, Granite, Limestone
Architectural styles
2 Victorian Period (c. 1840–c. 1890)
1898 -
Architecture and design features
Edward Davies, elliptical arches
Engineering features
Rundle Mall
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
National Mutual Life Association
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Commercial, Office
AS2482 classification
11550 - Restaurant - Cabaret - Nightclub
Public Access
Business/trading hours
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5930/609 F109050 A14 CT 5930/610 F109050 A14
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
3.3 Financing Adelaide
3.3.5 Company Headquarters
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • ACA, Digest of Proceedings, 24 March 1898, p. 78; Burgess, H.T., Cyclopedia of South Australia, Vol. 1, 1909, pp. 538-40; MLSA, Historical photographs (Town Acre 140); PRO, GRG 18/1/1.2.1876/67, 5.1.1876/6, GRG 50/1/8/1.2.1876.

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