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HTSA secures new North Terrace home

Stephanie Richards, SA History Trust secures new North Terrace home, InDaily, 2 February 2023

The SA History Trust has found a new heritage-listed home on North Terrace, after the Malinauskas Government tore up a controversial deal for it to set up in historic Ayers House.

The History Trust will move into the second floor of state heritage-listed Security House – previously known as “Kelvin House” – at 233 North Terrace in late May.

The circa-1926 privately-owned building, located opposite the University of Adelaide campus, is described as an “inter-war commercial palazzo style building with art deco elements”.

It was the previous headquarters of the SA Electricity Trust and currently houses Australian Fashion Labels.

The state government will initially lease the building for the trust until 2030, with the potential for future lease extensions.

Chair of Trustees at the SA History Trust, Elizabeth Ho, described the building as a “historically significant and prestigious central building on Adelaide’s premier cultural boulevard”.

She said it was important for the trust to be located close to other North Terrace cultural institutions, universities and the Department for Education, which oversees funding for the trust.

“Our new home will underpin our intent to be the leading voice for making the legacy stories of South Australia relevant to all ages and accessible world-wide,” she said.

“We are grateful for the SA Government’s support to ensure that we can create the right physical and digital environment for this important history work into the future.”

The SA History Trust will move into Security House on North Terrace in May. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily.

The SA History Trust was previously based at the Torrens Parade Ground drill hall for 18 years, but vacated the building in October to make room for a “veterans’ hub” housing the RSL, Department for Veteran Affairs, Air Force Association, Legacy Club and Vietnam Veterans Association.

The former Marshall Government negotiated a controversial deal to boot the National Trust from Ayers House and spend $6.6 million renovating the state heritage-listed building into a new office space for the government-run History Trust.

But that decision prompted a bitter public dispute and legal proceedings, as the National Trust – a non-government-owned organisation – was originally given only 31 days to move out of the building which it had occupied since 1972.

The Malinauskas Government in April subsequently tore up the deal and gave the National Trust the go-ahead to move back into the building which it was forced to vacate.

In the meantime, the SA History Trust has been temporarily operating out of the Department for Infrastructure and Transport office building on Grenfell Street while it searched for a new permanent base.

History Trust CEO Greg Mackie said throughout its 41-year history the trust had always been housed in government-owned heritage buildings, including the Institute Building, old Treasury Building (now Adina Hotel) and Edmund Wright House.

He said because there were no government-owned heritage buildings available within the city centre, the government approved the trust going out to market to secure space within a privately-owned building.

“We worked with the Department for Infrastructure and Transport to do an expression of interest call,” he said.

“There were a lot of proposals, but this one absolutely works the best for us.”

Mackie said the History Trust was now looking to develop more online resources for teachers and students so that South Australia’s history could be more easily taught in classrooms.

He said the trust would also collaborate with the state’s universities on projects, as well as continue operating its three museums – the Migration Museum the National Motor Museum and SA Maritime Museum.

“We’re very much re-engineering the organisation to be a 21st century, forward-facing organisation,” he said.

“What we’re looking to do is apply digital-by-design principles, whether it be in the development of projects, whether it be in the development of exhibitions and a far more cross-collaborative and participatory role for the public in the development of our programs and priorities.”

Meanwhile, Mackie said the state government was still considering a request by the History Trust to complete a full business case for a new “Adelaide Museum of South Australia’s History”.

“I’m hopeful that there will be some indication in the near future,” he said.