In 1889, the publication Temperance in Australia commented that the organisations of the temperance party in South Australia were numerous and influential. It named the Total Abstinence League and Band of Hope Union, which had headquarters in “suitable buildings” at North Adelaide, as the most important. The various temperance bodies attacked the liquor trade by means of campaigns and other methods: “Its chief object is moral suasion and the amount of good that has been done by this means cannot be tabulated. As the result of the advocacy of temperance principles ... it is computed that there are at least 50,000 pledged abstainers in the colony, forming about one-sixth of the entire population.”
The foundation stone of the Tynte Street hall was laid on May 24, 1855, by Thomas Reynolds, MLC, president of the Total Abstinence Society. The building was designed by James William Cole. Tenders were not called for the building until 1856 and the building was not finished until 1858. In 1883, additions and alterations were carried out to the design of architect Philip Arthur Howells. The building has remained substantially unchanged since then.
James and George William Cole, both trustees of the hall, were prominent in their own right. They served as members of the House of Assembly from 1860 to 1866 (G.W Cole) and 1857 to 1860 (J.W. Cole), and as representatives of the Temperance Movement and the Wesleyan Church. G.W. Cole also acted as valuer for the Adelaide City Council.
From 1858 to 1879 this building had a prominent place in the Temperance movement and some of the most important meetings in connection with this cause in South Australia were held here. In 1879 the Rechabites built new premises in Grote Street.
Cole was responsible for several non-conformist chapels in South Australia. The design of this facade is strongly derived from the classical tradition as practised in England in the early 19th century. As originally built, without the extended porch between the columns, the facade is dominated by the extensive use of stuccoed detail with projecting pilasters, relatively elaborate entablature, a “Soanian” (after the eminent English architect Sir John Soane) parapet and terminations. The building was designed before stuccoed walling became unfashionable and before the “Italianisation” of structures. Preference for the classical idiom was common in non-conformist denominations.