Wesleyan Methodist Church Hall

Wesleyan Methodist Church Hall

The old Pirie Street Chapel Hall is the last remaining part of a complex that was once the centre of Methodism in South Australia.

The Pirie Street Wesleyan Chapel was the third building completed for an expanding congregation. The first two chapels in Hindley Street (1838) and Gawler Place (1839) became too small and the members of a trust formed in 1849 began canvassing for subscriptions to build a larger one. They bought a half-acre site in Pirie Street for £600 in Pirie Street and the church was built in 1850. The cost, including land, was more than £6000:

Often spoken of as the “Methodist Cathedral”, the Pirie Street church fostered the spread of Methodism throughout the state. As the headquarters of South Australian Wesleyan Methodism, the church and its hall complex became the venue of the annual state conference and of the triennial General Conference of the Methodist Church of Australasia when it was held in Adelaide.

In 1853 a minister’s residence was built next to the church and in 1862 architect Edmund Wright designed a schoolroom to be built on to the rear south end of the existing chapel.

On completion, the hall was described in the South Australian Register of January 3, 1863, as being “admirably suited to answer the purpose for which it is intended”. The style was early English, in keeping with the chapel. The walls were of Dry Creek stone, neatly pointed, with brick dressings, “and in order to avoid any appearance of lowness, the Architect has thrown up side gables, in which the windows are placed”.

The old wall at the rear of the church was cut away and an archway introduced to the height of the two schoolrooms. Ahandsome gallery of cedar was placed in the centre, and entry was from a porch in the east side. Heavily stained roof timbers stood out against the blue boarding of the roof. The rich, moulded window arches and the three arched recesses at the platform end were deemed “pleasing and effective”.

The church was in a phase of expansion when the hall was built, and as an important element of Methodism was providing a good education for children, Prince Alfred College started in the lecture hall in January 1869. Five months later 50 pupils moved to their newly completed accommodation at Kent Town and the school went on to become one of the most prestigious in Adelaide.


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The church, hall and manse formed a complex regarded for many years as “one of the most complete and convenient ecclesiastical establishments which the Australian Methodist Church possessed”. The manse has since been replaced by the Epworth building and the church by the Colonel Light Centre. A new north wall to the hall was built when the chapel was demolished in 1976. The old church hall gives a distinctive character to the pedestrian link between Flinders and Pirie streets and is an important element in the historic precinct behind the Town Hall.

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Images of Wesleyan Methodist Church Hall

  • Wesleyan Methodist Church Hall, 2014
Edmund Wright
William Lines
Building materials
Brick, Stone, Bluestone, Sandstone, Slate
Architectural styles
2 Victorian Period (c. 1840–c. 1890), 2.12 Free Gothic
1862 -
Architecture and design features
Edmund Wright, gable, buttresses
Engineering features
Victoria Square- Tarndanyangga
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Wesleyan Methodist Church
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Religious, Meeting place
AS2482 classification
12560 - Hall
Public Access
Opening hours only
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5751/329 F181672 A830
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
6.3 Worshipping
6.3.1 Places of worship/Churches
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • Everett, J.D., History of Pirie Street Methodist Church, 1973; Old Parliament House Library, Lands Department photographs; Register, 12 May 1923, 22 May 1926; SA Heritage Branch, Report by Alexandra Marsden, register historian, Heritage Unit, 1980, Register of State Heritage Items, Meeting Hall; South Australian Register, 3 January, 1863.

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