Oriental Hotel (now Walsh Building)


The former Oriental Hotel is a five-storey corner building constructed to the former Rundle Street and Gawler Place alignment on site of an earlier two-storey Hamburg Hotel. First two floors built of stone but upper three floors of painted rendered brick. Imitation stone coursing and leafy scroll pattern on vertical pilaster panels. ‘WALSH BUILDING’ in metal letters to parapet—roof concealed by rendered parapet base and quoining. Cantilevered verandah above street level with verandahs and balcony to first and second floors: the balconies feature cast iron lacework to balustrade of both verandahs that continues into Gawler Place. Detailed timber joinery to upper floors—multi-pane windows. Shop front alterations at ground floor level.

A hotel existed on this site (Part Town Acre 82) from 1840 until 1966 when it was delicensed. It was known as the Suffolk Inn (26 March 1840–1842); Saracen’s Head (1842–1843); Suffolk (1843–1846); Hamburg (1847–1915); and Oriental (1915–1966).

In February 1922, tenders were called for alterations and additions to be carried out to the hotel. F Kenneth Milne was the architect in charge of the work.  Additional extensions were made in 1935 and 1939.  The hotel remained in use until 1966. In May 1977, the Council gave approval for the installation of shop fittings, a new shop front, stairs and alterations to the ground floor and basement levels. Shop front alterations have also occurred in 1985 and 1987.

Today it still operates as shops.

This building has been assessed as meeting local heritage criteria in accordance with the Development Act (1993).  However, despite its nomination for heritage listing by the Adelaide City Council, the Minister for Planning has refused to approve the listing, leaving this building without heritage protection.

Current status and listings

ACH Status:
Heritage Protection:
ACC Heritage ID:

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Hotels formed an essential part of the social and commercial life of Rundle Street/Mall, and the former Oriental Hotel is the most prominent of them and forms a major corner landmark. Designed by prominent Adelaide architectural firm Woods Bagot, Jory and Laybourne Smith, and constructed by Emmett and Sons, it is also an example of the use of reinforced concrete which gained popularity in the early 1920s resulting in the modification of the Building Act in July 1924 to incorporate provisions for the new technology. It illustrates several key themes in the city’s history: 2.5 City Dwellers: City, state and business leaders; 3.1.1 Early Development Patterns; 3.5.1 A City of Pubs; 3.7 Working Men and Women; 4.3 Development of the Building Industry, Architecture and Construction; 4.4.2 Other Forms of Accommodation; 6.2.3 Hotels, Bars and Wineshops.

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14 thoughts on “Oriental Hotel (now Walsh Building)

  1. have just come across in an old family box 4 silverplated Inscribed goblets see attached photo I have no memory of these mugs where they for sale in the hotel in the 50`s 60`s?

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  2. Here is a crop from a photo taken by my father in Jan.1958, showing the hotel when it was still trading.
    580129W Rundle St at Gawler Place (Adelaide, SA): Oriental Hotel. (Neil Smith, Roderick Smith collection)

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    • Great image Roderick, how strange to see this part of Rundle Street filled with cars after so many years as a pedestrian mall.

  3. My mother was a Sister in the Australian Army Nursing Service during WWII and was billeted in Adelaide on her return from the Middle East in March 1942. Mum’s diary has several entries referring to dining at the Oriental Hotel. There is also an entry “Helen and I are getting new costumes (uniforms) made at Fred Walsh’s”. Presume a shop under the hotel, now known as the Walsh Building? I attach a recent photo that I took of the building – in monochrome to reflect the era.

    Note typo in first sentence of website article – Orient should be Oriental.

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    • Great image and thanks for sharing the connection (and correction). That diary must be full of interesting stories!

  4. A scan of an 80 year old function menu held at the Oriental may be of interest.

    The SLSA holds in its collection a ‘porte-menu’ (leather menu cover) from the days when the hotel was the Hamburg. It dates from between 1895 and 1902. A rare survivor.

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