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The History of Holden Street Theatres


All Saint's Anglican Church (now Holden Street Theatres, The Arch)
Circa 1875, Photo taken by Samuel White.

Holden Street Theatres is so lucky to have a rich history in Hindmarsh.

It all started in 1849 when Bishop Augustus Short laid the first foundation stone for the All Saint's Anglican Church which would later become The Arch. Built in the Norman style the limestone church was opened on the 23rd of June 1850. A rectory was also built during this time to house the clergy, a chancel and a vestry where then added in 1872. Due to lack of funds the church had to rely on donations from the community to add the chancel and vestry, with local Thebarton resident, John Taylor, donating a majority of the £272 needed.

As the years went on and the congregation grew a church hall (which would later become The Studio) was built and opened to the public on March 28, 1882. Many years later a gallery was added and completed in 1955. The buildings were listed on the Register of the National Estate on 28 September 1982 and on the South Australian Heritage Register on 23 November 1989.

Unfortunately during the later half of the 20th century the beautiful old buildings became disused and dilapidated until Weslo Holdings and the Nature Foundation of South Australia (NFSA) came along. While the NFSA took over the rectory as it's head offices, the church and church hall where converted into theatres under the direction of Martha Lott at Weslo Holdings. The complex was taken over in 2002 with the original refurbishment of the All Saint's Anglican Church turning into The Arch in 2004, while the old church hall became The Studio and its gallery become The Box Bar. In December 2020 the NFSA vacated the rectory and we added the building to our hub. This added several more small spaces that can be used for performance, rehearsal, development or exhibition spaces, a garden area, a kitchen, office and family room to create the Holden Street Theatres' Arts Park. A creative arts hub that can nurture artists from inception to performance.

We ran our first Fringe in 2004 with five shows. Since then our Fringe program has grown extensively with our biggest year in 2020, when we had 24 shows, 6 performance spaces and 336 session. Over the years we have won 91 Fringe awards as well as given out 23 awards of our own. Starting in 2008 we have awarded the Holden Street Theatres' Edinburgh Fringe Award, the only award of its kind that tours work from the Edinburgh Fringe to the Adelaide Fringe. With the inaugural winner The Tailor of Inverness heading to Australia in 2009 to headline our program. In 2016 the Holden Street Theatres' Adelaide Fringe Award started as well that gives free hire to emerging Adelaide artists to develop or stage their new works.

Holden Street Theatres strives to support and nurture the local creative arts scene while also getting involved with our flourishing Hindmarsh community. While we are most known for our Fringe program, we are a performing arts hub operating year round with spaces for hire and many excellent shows to see. We are often involved in many other festivals throughout the year including Feast, Adelaide Cabaret Fringe, SALA, Umbrella Festival, Guitars in Bars, Hidden Hindmarsh and many more. We're so thrilled to keep this wonderful part of history alive and active within the community.



Painting by James Shaw showing the All Saint's Anglican Church and rectory, painted circa 1864.


The All Saint's Church choir, circa 1850-1871.


All Saint's Church in use, circa 1850-1871.


Church officials standing outside the rectory.


The rectory, circa 1850 - 1871.

Holden Street Theatres Trivia

  • Thomas Hardy (1830-1912), often referred to as "The Father of the South Australian Wine Industry" and founder of Hardy's Wines is buried in the Hindmarsh Cemetery, and the original plaque commemorating him is still in The Arch at Holden Street Theatres. He was a huge influence in the area leasing fields to grow grapes in Torrensville, helping to fund a bottling plant in Brompton, and opening an office and cellar in Mile End. His funeral service was at the All Saint's Anglican Church in 1912.
  • Dr Barbara Hardy OA was a huge influence on nature conservation in South Australia. She was instrumental in in creating the Nature Parks Foundation of South Australia in 1981 which would later become the NFSA. The NFSA was once housed in the rectory and the Barbara Hardy Garden is dedicated to her. There is even a plaque on the back wall to commemorate her amazing achievements.
  • Hindmarsh was established as South Australia's first secondary town outside Adelaide and its first suburban village. Originally called the Town of Hindmarsh after South Australia's first governor, Sir John Hindmarsh. The first wall built in Hindmarsh is the brick and stone fence that lines the front of Holden Street Theatres.

Time Line

All Saint's Anglican Church
23rd June, 1850

Chancel and Vestry

Church Hall
28th March, 1882


South Australian Heritage Register
28th September, 1982

Holden Street Theatres

First Fringe Program

Holden Street Theatres' Arts Park
17 December, 2020