Legislative Council Chamber
Constructed in stages between 1843 and 1875 Adelaide’s Old Parliament House is of major historical significance both at the state and national level. The complex includes two walls of the original Council Chamber dating from 1843 which was the first permanent home of South Australia’s Legislative Council along with the first House of Assembly Chamber and the second Council Chamber.
What we see today was designed by the Colonial Architect W. Bennett Hayes, and apart from extensions on the western side, its façade is much the same as when built. It has been described as ‘depressing’ and uninspired’ but closer examination of certain sections reveals an attractive blending of coursed rubble and red brick work. It features six main arches on the lower level, arched windows and red brick quoins, and a perforated brick balustrade over the centre section. The building originally had a slate roof but this has been replaced with galvanised iron. The old building was used until 1889 when the first part of the present Parliament House was completed. It was used as the Constitutional Museum in the 1980’s and 1990’s and is now used as offices for parliamentary staff.
For almost a century until the completion of the present Parliament House in 1939 allowed the Legislative Council to vacate it Old Parliament House was the scene of political debates that shaped the history of the State while its piecemeal enlargement reflects the development of the Colony’s democratic institutions. It is strongly associated with the introduction of important democratic reforms in which South Australia led the other Australian colonies including full adult male suffrage the secret ballot and the rights of women to vote and hold political office. The building incorporates examples of the work of three significant colonial architects: E A Hamilton W Bennet Hays and E J Woods. It is one of only a handful of important government buildings constructed prior to 1860 now remaining in Adelaide.
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