Royal South Australian Deaf Society Headquarters

Royal South Australian Deaf Society Headquarters

The South Australian Adult Deaf and Dumb Mission, which was responsible for the building in South Terrace, was founded by Samuel Johnson in1890. He saw a need for an institution for deaf and dumb teenagers who had to leave the SA Institute for the Blind and Deaf at Brighton once they were 16 years old The new mission, as well as providing facilities for teenagers, also catered for adults.

The mission was founded in 1890 to promote the interests of the adult deaf by teaching them to help themselves, and to make arrangements to apprentice them to suitable trades and other occupations. The first premises were constructed in Wright Street in 1895, but when the number of inmates rose from about 20 in 1901 to well over a hundred by the 1920s, the original premises became too small. The mission bought a one-acre property that included two double-storey houses to serve as separate hostels for men and women. A Miss Graves left £8000 to the mission and a new building in the Georgian revival idiom was designed by Louis Laybourne Smith. The foundation stone was laid in 1927 by the lord mayor Sir Wallace Bruce, and the building was officially opened during a fete on November 17,1928, by the Governor Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthyen.

The new building featured an assembly hall-gymnasium with a stage and dressing rooms, a large entrance and stair hall, boardroom, billiard room and a kitchen for entertaining. Upstairs was the memorial chapel, a classroom and vestry.

The building is now the head offices for Deaf Can:Do.


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The building is historically significant as a continuing institution aiding those with hearing impairments.

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Images of Royal South Australian Deaf Society Headquarters

Louis Laybourne Smith
Building materials
Architectural styles
3.12 Inter-War Period (c. 1915–c. 1940), 3.13 Georgian Revival
1927 - 1928
Architecture and design features
fleche, veranda
Engineering features
South East Corner
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Royal South Australian Deaf Society
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Dwelling, House, Health and welfare, Public welfare
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 5890/33 D17244 A11
NTSA file exists
Heritage Status
Register of National Estate
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
6.4 Forming Associations
6.4.4 Community and Service Organisations
7.1 Schools
7.1.1 Special Schools
Samuel Johnson
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • Advertiser, 19 November 1928; Builder, 18 May 1927; Building and Construction, 30 November 1926, Burgess, H.T., Cyclopedia of South Australia, Vol. 2, 1909, pp. 76-1; S.A. Deaf Notes March-April 1927, p. 1; SA Institute for the Blind and Deaf, First annual report, 30 September 1876; Annual reports, Walkley G., Louis Laybourne Smith: a memoir, SAIT,
  • 1977; Woods Bagot, Ledger of commissions.

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