If you have walked down Rundle Mall near Twin Street, once or many times it is possible that you have not noticed this building. It currently houses Foot Locker, Dymocks Books and Price Attack. If you look up, you will see an interesting building which has been part of Adelaide’s history since 1879.
Back then, prominent South Australian architect, Rowland Rees, designed the building for butcher William Kither. Rees had come to the colony in 1869 where he practised as an architect and also served as a member of parliament in 1873 when he was Member for Burra, a seat he held until 1881. He then had the seat of Onkaparinga from 1882 to 1890. He designed such buildings as Lobethal Woollen Mills (1883), St Peter’s Town Hall (1885), Moonta Methodist Church (1873) as well as houses in Adelaide and North Adelaide.
The shop built for William Kither showed Rees’s attention to detail and use of ornate features. It includes wrought iron balcony which was later removed in the twentieth century. Kither was well known as a butcher and was also the first to import a butcher’s refrigerator. This is noted in the South Australian Register on 23 August 1884.
This photo taken on 14 July 1932 is remarkably similar to the building today. The three pediments remain intact, and the windows and decorative features are almost unchanged. However, the decorative balcony is still there. On the middle pediment, you can see in the photo MDCCCLXXX – Roman numerals for 1890 the year the building was opened. On the left and right pediments, you can see the words Kither and Butcher and this business was to remain there until 1932 when Kithers moved to King William Street and the building sold to Clarksons.
Clarksons Limited had originally been established by German immigrant Heinrich Ludwig Vosz who arrived in Adelaide in 1848. After going to the Victorian goldfields he returned to Adelaide and set up a glass, oil and colour business in Rundle Street. The business had several owners after Vosz’s death in 1886 and was renamed Clarksons in 1915 after its managing director. The company expanded and included leadlight manufacturing. Clarksons. It moved to 135 Rundle Street (now Rundle Mall) in 1932 and remained there until 1958 when the building was sold to the Commonwealth Saving Bank of Australia.
The photo below was taken in on 19 December 1932 just 6 months after the one above. Notice that the balcony has been removed. The left and right pediments are also missing and this could be that they have been removed to replaced Zither Butcher with the Clarkson name.
The building is now owned by the Peregrine Corporation which owns several well known chain outlets such as Subway and On the Run. If you look up next time you are passing the building, you will notice the Corporation’s name is now on the central pediment – the left and right are now blank. You will also notice two owl like birds looking down on you. I haven’t been able to find out for sure but it makes sense that these are peregrines most likely installed by the Corporation when it bought the building. I am investigating this further. In the meantime, enjoy this building – another little slice of Adelaide’s history.
Note: Clarksons is still trading https://www.obrienglass.com.au/clarksons/