St Cecilia’s Primary School and Concert Hall was erected on the corner of Angas Street and Chancery Lane. The Sisters used the Cunningham legacy to purchase five small properties between Chancery Lane and the Barr Smith House where they built the primary school and hall. The new building was blessed and opened on 8 August 1925 with a thousand people attending the opening.
‘As a concert hall, it could seat eight hundred people. As a school, the floor space was divided into two, by folding doors. There was an ample stage and a proscenium (the part of the stage in front of the curtain) as well as a room at the rear of the stage – all available for classes. There were side galleries for the children and a public gallery reached through the entrance up jarrah staircases. The whole interior was of a warm and cheerful colouring. The floors were of oiled jarrah, the dadoes or lower parts of the walls were of red cement, so that they could be used as ‘blackboards’. The room at the rear was entirely surrounded with blackboards of blackened cement’ (McLay, 1996).
The girls from the former St Angela’s Primary School, which was housed in the St Francis Xavier Hall, moved into the new building. The St Anthony’s School for younger boys had been closed since 1915. Both St Cecilia’s School and St Aloysius College were now on the same grounds but operated side by side. Although it was the Cathedral parish school, there was no assistance from the Cathedral parish, leaving the whole financial burden of running St Cecilia’s to fall on the Sisters.
In 1957 St Cecilia’s as a separate school was closed and the girls from St Cecilia’s were absorbed into St Aloysius College.
St Cecilia’s Hall was used by the school and became the venue for many school performances, concerts and musicals but in 1985 it was demolished to make way for the Sr Carmel Bourke Expressive Arts Centre. A ‘wake’ for the old hall and former primary school was held, with a piano solo by Sr Carmel Bourke, who had performed at its opening as a student.
1996, Women on the move: Mercy’s Triple Spiral, Sisters of Mercy, Adelaide.
St Cecilia’s Hall 1926, Photograph, State Library of South Australia B 3408, viewed 5 July 2022, <https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+3408>.