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Timeless Treasures Edmund Wright Trail's Historic Buildings

Timeless Treasures: Edmund Wright Trail’s Historic Buildings

Ready to enter a bygone era along the Edmund Wright Trail, where history reigns supreme and architecture flaunts its timeless charm?  

With ornate houses and colonial buildings standing proudly, this spot is a glimpse into the golden past and the brilliant mind of one of Adelaide’s most exceptional figures.

If you want to learn more about Edmund Wright Trail’s timeless treasures, our article below will be your trusty guide! 

Adelaide’s Edmund Wright Trail

Adelaide’s Edmund Wright Trail

Born in the vibrant city of London, Edmund Wright set sail for the sun-kissed shores of Australia, carrying with him a burning passion for design and innovation. Little did he know that his footsteps would shape the fabric of most of Adelaide’s urban style. 

Edmund, with his architect’s hat firmly in place, co-designed not just one but five prominent buildings that grace the iconic King William Street. 

In a mere 800-meter strip, this architectural wizard and former lord mayor of Adelaide weaved his enchanting touch, forever imprinting the city’s character in an area now known as The Edmund Wright Trail.

The Five Historic Architectural Wonders on Edmund Wright Trail

Bank of Adelaide

Address: 81 King William St, SA, 5000

Let’s start in a building where money talks, but it’s the colonial architecture that steals the spotlight. 

This architectural feat proudly showcases a blend of classical and neoclassical elements. 

The facade of the Bank of Adelaide captivates with its striking features, notably the presence of large, Italian-inspired windows that punctuate its exterior. 

Bank of Adelaide

Complementing these windows are the walls showcasing meticulously crafted plasterwork and decorative moldings. The spacious banking hall is also made more beautiful as it receives ample natural light.

Fun Facts: 

  • Amid a heated battle to protect the Bank of South Australia from demolition in 1971, sculptor John Dowie hailed Edmund Wright as the “Christopher Wren of Adelaide.” Dowie’s praise was a testament to Wright’s remarkable legacy of classical buildings throughout the city.
  • The Bank of Adelaide is a product of the wheat and copper boom of the 1870s and was created by the brilliant minds of Edmund Wright and Lloyd Tayler, a Melbourne-native architect.
  • With his design of the Bank of Adelaide, Edmund Wright rose to fame, particularly after writing about Italian architecture’s pros when it comes to places with a hot, Mediterranean climate. This is why most of his works have high ceilings and extensive windows.

The Adelaide Town Hall

The Adelaide Town Hall

Address: 128 King William St, Adelaide SA 5000

The Town Hall also showcases a neoclassical architectural style that was all the rage back in the day. 

Its symmetrical design, complete with a central entrance with towering columns, gives off an air of authority. 

At the entrance, we were welcomed by a set of ornate double doors, while inside we saw lofty ceilings adorned with sparkling chandeliers. They cast a radiant glow while the highly-detailed walls and staircase create an atmosphere of sophistication.

The Adelaide Town Hall

Fun Facts: 

  • Edmund Wright and his partner, E.J. Woods, got the rights to design the town hall by winning a competition.
  • Upon opening in 1866, the Adelaide Town Hall was touted as the Southern Hemisphere’s finest municipal building.
  • Edmund Wright’s first crack at designing the town hall was derailed due to a lack of budget, and the same problem almost ended his second attempt.
  • The Adelaide Town Hall has hosted several significant celebrations throughout its history. Some notable ones include federal celebrations (1901), the Centenary of South Australia (1936), royal visits, New Year’s Eve parties, and the latest being Father Christmas’ arrival for the town’s Christmas Pageant.

General Post Office

General Post Office

Address: 2/10 Franklin St, Adelaide SA 5000

The exterior of the General Post Office showcases grand proportions and intricate detailing, reflecting the Victorian-era architectural style that dominated Adelaide during Edmund Wright’s time. 

Upon entering the building, our team was greeted by a spacious and functional interior, thoughtfully designed to accommodate the various postal operations of its time. 

The layout and organization of the space reflect the importance of efficient postal services. 

This is further highlighted by well-positioned counter placements and efficient processing areas showcasing Edmund Wright’s knack not just for aesthetics but also practicability.

General Post Office

Fun Facts: 

  • The bells in the bell tower were made in England and emulate Westminster Abbey peal’s majestic sounds. 
  • Just like the previous building, Edmund Wright and E.J. Woods were chosen to design Adelaide’s General Post Office after winning a competition. However, their first design which claimed victory was not followed, as the budget wasn’t enough. It’s safe to say that even before, creativity was held hostage by the mighty dollar.
  • The height of the General Post Office’s Victoria Tower was an example of this design alteration, as the said tower turned out to be shorter than what Edmund Wright had imagined. Despite this, after the tower was built in 1872, it was crowned as the tallest building in Adelaide for almost an entire century.

Parliament House

Address: Parliament House, North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000

Adelaide’s Parliament House oozes with the typical finesse and elegance seen in almost all of Edmund Wright’s architectural marvels.  

The symmetrical building features rows of grand, classical pillars made of marble, long, narrow windows, and a prominent central entrance—all embellished with intricate stone carvings and ornamental details. 

The exterior’s warm and untainted sandstone hue also imparts a sense of permanence, harmonizing seamlessly with North Terrace’s bustling streets. 

On the one hand, the classy interior holds a blend of 1880s Victorian antique decorations and a touch of modernist aesthetics from the 1930s.

Fun Facts: 

  • You can explore the Parliament House by joining a guided tour. Moreover, when Parliament sessions aren’t taking place, complimentary guided public tours are offered at 10 am and 2 pm on weekdays!
  • You might’ve guessed this one already, but we’ll still unveil this not-so-surprising fact: the grand vision for Adelaide’s Parliament House took an unfortunate detour due to the all-too-common culprit: budget cuts. In fact, during the 19th century, an attempt was made to construct only the first half of the monumental structure.
  • A colossal dome was one of the most significant things from Edmund Wright’s original concept that was cut.
  • Most consider Adelaide’s Parliament House as Edmund Wright’s magnum opus. Sadly, in 1888, a year prior to the Houses of Parliaments’ opening, the sensational architect passed away in his home due to intestinal blockage.

Edmund Wright House

Address: King William St, Adelaide SA 5000

It’s only fitting to end this article with Edmund Wright’s not-so-humble-abode, that, surprise-surprise, used to be The Bank of Adelaide!

This manor’s lavishly ornate facade is the first thing that catches the eye, but it’s the Victorian-era ornamentation and detailing that hooks attention—and never lets go of it.

Tall and majestic, this was built in 1878 and features a symmetrical design, flanked by equally impressive wings on both sides. It also has decorative cornices and intricate wrought-iron detailing—grandiose colonial elements further improving its pizzaz. 

Edmund Wright House

The use of sandstone lends an air of timelessness, giving the structure a sense of solidity, while the arched windows let natural light flood inside.

Moving beyond the entrance, our team found an interior unfolding with elegance. 

The main room, with its high ceilings and predominantly golden hues, creates an atmosphere of reverence, especially since it has polished floors and richly carved wooden counters.  

Fun Fact: Edmund Wright’s first workspace as an engineer and architect is a stone’s throw away from Rundle Mall’s Beehive Corner. 

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