ELDER HALL IN MORIALTA STREET, ADELAIDE, is a tribute to work of private charities and benevolent groups set up in early colonial days.
The hall is home to the Adelaide Benevolent Society – set up in 1849 as the Adelaide Benevolent and Strangers’ Friend Society.
It aimed “to relieve the sick and indigent, especially among the newly arrived immigrants” who often arrived penniless after paying the high price of the passage to the colony. Along with the difficulties of finding a job and the city’s high rent, new settlers could easily find themselves destitute.
The society assessed applicants' needs and handed out relief. In 1869, the society began buying small houses and renting them at a low cost. In 1898, a £1,000 bequest from the Thomas Elder allowed the society to build new headquarters, designed by Daniel Garlick and Herbert Jacksman, in Morialta Street, near Victoria Square.
Today the Adelaide Benevolent Society still offers affordable housing and financial relief to South Australians from this building. Benevolent and Strangers Friend Society from 1849.
The Girls Friendly Society was introduced into South Australia by governor William Jervois’ wife Lucy and daughters in 1879. The aim of the society was to raise funds for distribution to the poor.
In 1887, Lucy Jervois first stressed the need for hostel accommodation for newly arrived immigrant girls. This later had success in 1913 when the organisation rented premises in Kermode Street, North Adelaide.