Gawler Institute Murray Street 91
|Also known as:||The Institute|
|Address:||91 Murray Street|
|Town or Locality:||Gawler|
|Year constructed:|| |
The date "1870-71" was not understood.
The first attempt to establish a mechanics’ institute at Gawler was made by Walter Duffield in 1848. The men of Gawler were not ready for such an organisation but the idea was not forgotten and eventually the Gawler Institute was formed in October 1857. Committee meetings were first held at the home of James Martin in Murray Street until arrangements were made to hire a room in a building opposite the Globe (now Kingsford) Hotel. On 3 November 1857, the Gawler Institute was officially opened with a concert. During 1858, the Oddfellows Hall was built in Murray Street and the Institute Committee rented the rooms on the ground floor and leased the hall above for twelve concerts a year.
The popularity of the Gawler Institute grew rapidly in the first few years. By 1860 it held 2000 books and other printed matter and 200 subscribers were listed on its books (the free lending library that we know today was still more than a hundred years in the future). For at least the first ten years, a celebratory event was held on the anniversary of its formation. Most well-known of these celebrations was The Song of Australia competition for the Institute's second anniversary.
The seventh anniversary was celebrated with a fair on the Park Lands. Proceeds were used to begin the Gawler Institute building fund – the push was on to build a permanent home for the Institute. The people of Gawler were urged to raise the money required and a huge art union realised about £1000.Residents were assessed for subscriptions and told how much they were expected to pay and twenty of the more prominent of the town signed a bank guarantee for the loan of £1000. Unfortunately there was a debt of £1600 when the building was finished but it was cleared by £1000 in funds which were made available from the South Australian Parliament and by another assessment of residents. The land upon which the institute was to be built was donated by James Martin, who also drew up the plans for the building. The foundation stone was laid on 13 April 1870 and the building was completed a year later.
Source: Historical Pamphlet, Gawler Public Library: a brief history
For all photos of Gawler Institute click here.
The Institute motto evidently was "It is good to be merry and wise".