North Adelaide Congregational Church

North Adelaide Congregational Church

The former Brougham Place Congregational Church, once described as a ‘resort for enquiring minds”, is one of the most substantial buildings erected in South Australia as a place of worship for a non-conformist denomination. It is directly associated with the migration of non-conformists and evokes the well-known description of South Australia as a “Paradise of Dissent”. The achievements of the religious dissenters, their capital wealth and their influence reached its zenith with the erection of this church.

The prominent Congregational minister, Reverend T.Q. Stow, long held a desire to establish in North Adelaide a Congregational church fellowship. He selected the present site and established a building committee. Reverend Dr J. Jefferis was invited to the new pastorate, arriving in Adelaide with his wife in 1859. A hall in Tynte Street was used for worship from the following month and the church was then officially established in North Adelaide. Later that same year a competition for the design of the new church was won by Edmund Wright in partnership with E.A. Hamilton. The building was then described as Greco-ltalian in style to be constructed of bluestone from Dry Creek or Glen Osmond.

On May 15, 1860, the foundation stone (taken from the bed of the River Torrens) was laid. The church design was at this time described as Venetian Ionic in style. The builders were Scott and Opie, and the clerk of works was Thomas Frost, who later became an architect of some note. On February 22, 1861, an incomplete church was opened, with Reverend Stow giving the sermon. The structure, which excluded the lecture hall to the east and tower, was subject to a good deal of adverse criticism due to the “unfashionable” appearance of its stuccoed wall surfaces.

During the 1860s the church became a resort for “enquiring minds professing different creeds or having no settled belief”. Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Roman Catholics and Jews joined in worship in response to the progressive theology taught under the Reverend Dr J. Jefferis, where “science and philosophy were looked upon as handmaids to religion”.

In 1871, E.A. Hamilton submitted a design for a 107-foot tower. The main body of the church then reached its present form with additional major works to the basement and stables together with railings to the Brougham Place frontages. In 1878 Thomas Frost was commissioned to plan a lecture hall, classrooms and organ gallery, although apparently this work was not completed until after 1880.


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The church is one of the most prominent townscape features of Adelaide and its tower is a landmark in lower North Adelaide in particular. The window openings, which display a strong Venetian influence, are contained within pilastered wall surfaces which are robustly detailed with heavy string courses and set below a bracketed entablature with balustraded parapet topped with urns. The composition is an unusual one, evoking Baroque designs due to the unconventional treatment of detail. Its Classical style contrasts with the Gothic style of St Peter’s Anglican cathedral, each building reflecting the respective non-conformist and conformist religions’ traditions and demonstrating something of the nature of religious dissent in South Australia.

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Images of North Adelaide Congregational Church

Edmund Wright, Edward Hamilton
Scott and Opie
Building materials
Render, Stucco, Stone, Bluestone
Architectural styles
2 Victorian Period (c. 1840–c. 1890), 2.9 Italianate
1860 - 1861 

Additional Works

Edward Hamilton designed tower

Construction commenced
Construction completed

Thomas Frost designed lecture hall and organ gallery

Construction commenced
Construction completed
Architecture and design features
pilsater, cupola, balustrade
Engineering features
Lower North Adelaide
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Congregational Church
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Religious, Church
AS2482 classification
15500 - Religious Building
Public Access
Opening hours only
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5200/72 D22380 A2 CT 5407/720 D22380 A1
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 classified
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
2.2 Immigration
2.2.2 Jewish Settlers
6.3 Worshipping
6.3.1 Places of worship/Churches
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • ACA, Smith Survey 1880; MLSA, Historical photographs (Town Acre
  • 1026); Register,
  • 8 September 1923; South
  • Australian Register, 16 May
  • 1860, 23 February 1861, 25
  • February 1861, 10
  • September 1863, 4 January
  • 1872, 15 July 1872.

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