Sir Samuel Way Building Adelaide has undergone a radical change in function and in historical terms only the facades and the main staircase have long-established significance. They are all that remain of Charles Moore’s store, one of Adelaide’s major department stores and unique because of its Victoria Square location away from the main retail centre. However, extensive work on the building has given it additional significance as it now houses the Adelaide local district courts.
Alterations have strengthened and improved the quality of the original facades of the Charles Moore building. In addition, the encircling of the ground floor with a sympathetically styled verandah to street frontages, and the removal of extraneous rooftop accretions and their replacement with a terracotta-tiled roof and central dome have changed the building to suit its law court function. The old store was extensively damaged by fire in March 1948 and substantially rebuilt afterwards, so the staircase and facades are the only parts that have survived intact since it was first opened.
Charles Moore’s new store, which opened on August 29,1916, was inspired by a visit to the Paris Exhibition of 1878 and the nobility of the Parisian buildings.
Moore came to South Australia in 1881, first working for John Martin and Co. By 1890 his own merchant and import business had grown to become the “largest business out of Rundle Street”. When the heart of Adelaide’s retail centre was in Rundle Street and Hindley Street, Moore took a huge gamble in selecting a site at the south-west of Victoria Square. The mayor announced that this event was unique in the state’s commercial history, and would encourage the progress and development of its surroundings.