The Fascinating History of Beehive Corner

“Meet you at the beehive corner.” This is a popular phrase spoken amongst locals in Adelaide City who are looking for a central and well-known meeting spot.

It refers to a corner and landmark in the centre of Adelaide on the north-eastern corner of King William Street and Rundle Street. It sits slap bang in the middle of the train station and the city’s bustling shopping precinct.

The history of the landmark is a fascinating one, dating back to October 1849 when Brewer and Robertson opened a draper’s shop called the The Beehive. Later, in 1850 to 1858, the shop was passed over to J.V.B. Ryley and then Israel Simmons, who ran the shop right up until 1886. This was when the economic downturn took place and many owners lost their businesses.

Supposedly, the shop was decorated with a beehive motif on the glass door which was rendered in gold leaf, making it a stand out destination back in those times. The name was chosen to denote a busy trading centre – hence the reference to bees.

Today, Beehive Corner remains one of the most popular and recognized landmarks and buildings in the city. Sitting proudly on the corner of crisscrossing busy streets, it boasts a unique corner turret that appears to take on the shape of a beehive. At the top of the turret, there is a lone, gold bee.

The building that sits on the corner now was built between 1895 and 1896. The design by George Klewitz Soward and Thomas English was created especially for the building’s owner, Henry Martin, who also had Soward and English design the buildings alongside the Tavistock Hotel on Rundle Street.

The Beehive Corner building, as it is now known, draws on the Gothic Revival style, but it also offers something a bit different. It showcases an incredible amount of intricate detail for a building erected around this time, which is visible on the corner turret.

As well as displaying a fascinating design and harbouring a lengthy history, Beehive Corner is also a popular shopping hub, featuring a number of shops that decorate its edges. Visitors and local hotfoot it to this area to browse the selection of goods on offer, meet up with friends, and admire the incredible architecture on show.

If you find yourself in Adelaide City, Beehive Corner is well worth a look-in if you want to get a taste for the city’s urban history and to catch a glimpse of a solid gold bee.

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