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Moores on the Square

Moore’s on the Square was a magnificent department store known to two generations of Adelaideans and founded by Charles Moore, a businessman who was born in Ireland in 1858.

Photo from the State Library of SA. Moore's Department Store on the corner of Gouger Street and Victoria Square in the 1970s. The building is now used by the Law Courts.

Photo from the State Library of SA. Moore’s Department Store on the corner of Gouger Street and Victoria Square in the 1970s. The building is now used by the Law Courts.

According to Wikipedia “Moore’s opened in 1914, a new palatial store on the west side of Victoria Square between Grote and Grenfell Streets, designed by architects Garlick & Jackman. No expense was spared in providing a maximum of display area behind large plate glass windows, generously lit by a huge leadlight cupola and extensive artificial lighting. A feature was a grand marble staircase leading to the first floor. The store was officially opened two years later by the Mayor of Adelaide,  Isaac Isaacs, on 29th August 1916.”

Photo from the State Library of SA. In 1948 Moores was destoyed by one of the most spectacular fires ever seen in Adelaide

Photo from the State Library of SA. In 1948 Moores was destoyed by one of the most spectacular fires ever seen in Adelaide

It traded successfully in Adelaide for the next three decades and then on the 2nd March 1948, Moore’s was gutted by fire; all that remained was some ground floor structures, the external shell, and the staircase. It was one of the most spectacular fires ever to be seen in Adelaide.

“The shop was rebuilt under the architects Garlick, Jackman and Gooden and business returned until a gradual decline in the 1970s. In 1979 the store was sold to the South Australian Government and was later transformed into a major law courts building containing some 26 courtrooms, library and administration. It was christened the “Sir Samuel Way Building” by the Governor of South Australia Sir Donald Dunstan in 1983 commemorating the South Australian jurist Samuel Way.”

From a post originally on the ARW Facebook website last year, Barb Walker recalled that Moores had the most magnificent interior. “I think the grand staircase was marble. And I remember the shoe department (of course). It was like a stage! Loved that old store, those were the days”. John Siebert wrote “My Mother used to work there as a cosmetics buyer and was pregnant with me at the time. She always said the fire on the night of 2nd March brought on my birth on 4th March”.

Photo from the State Library of SA. The magnificent  marble staircase

Photo from the State Library of SA. The magnificent marble staircase

 Col Penney related how “In 1942 I lived at Croydon and in 1949, I shifted to Brooklyn Park.. Whilst at Croydon, my elder brother, parents and myself, caught the train to town, and walked to ‘Victoria Square’ to see the big fire at Moore’s”.        Jackie Parkhouse too had vivid memories of the store; “I remember that staircase., coming down it in the early 70’s I saw the most beautiful Indian looking dress. I thought about for years”. 

Other posters had fond recollections of Christmas at Moores and how it had been designed along the lines of some of the most glamorous department stores in Paris and continental Europe.

Thankfully we still have the building and there are occasionally open days when the public are invited in to view the interior which even today is still beautiful. Next time it opens don’t miss the chance to see it!



32 Responses to Moores on the Square

  1. ian tige September 28, 2014 at 3:19 am #

    i remember Moores as a young lad, particularly the record department, where they contributed to a good number of my 2,000 + singles, and most still have the original Moores sales sticker on them…

  2. Nick Bambacas March 27, 2015 at 6:58 pm #

    I recall a ride at Moores it was a large flying saucer on an hydraulic arm I was probably about five then , I don’t know if any one recalls this or what happend to it,

  3. barry Harvey& Patricia Harvey nee Cookesly April 10, 2015 at 7:11 pm #

    Both my Wife and I worked at Charles Moore I worked in the dispatch dept located in the Basement in the early 1960’s whereas Pat worked in the jewellery dept in the mid 60’s we met through a mutual friend, We dated for 5 years before we eventually got married we will celebrate 50 years of marriage in April 2015,We both have very good memories back then.

  4. Janet McCrossen September 2, 2015 at 8:11 pm #

    I worked @ Moores late 1960’s in the Office

  5. Erik Buttars October 14, 2015 at 11:54 am #

    Memories of the Moore department store will always remain with me. I was about five years old when the store burnt down, my family lived out towards Gilles Plains on open land on a rise and I can remember my uncle picking me up and with all the extended family looking towards Adelaide watching the fears glow of the fire. In later years photos and television of the London Blitz always brought back the memories from that same night. After the rebuild, I was often taken there by my mother as it was one of her favourite places to shop, and yes, I can still remember the magnificent staircase. Some of our family childhood photographs were taken in the Moore Studio.

  6. Judith Kayess December 27, 2015 at 9:08 pm #

    My Aunt Phyllis Haire ( later Rehn) worked in the ladies underwear & hosiery dept. I used to visit her in my lunch break when time permitted & I too loved those stairs. It was a great shop. I married & moved to NSW in 1970 & had heard it was demolished so I am delighted to hear it is still standing. Such a pity when the old buildings disappear.

  7. Glyn Bates January 9, 2016 at 3:31 pm #

    I was a buyer for the dress fabric and haberdashery department in the late 70’s. I recall our window dresser doing a mannequin on the stair case in fabrics and having customers wanting to buy the dress. Fond memories of the other buyers there.

    • Leonie Howells October 4, 2016 at 12:42 am #

      Hi Glyn, I was a window dresser in the early 70’s I loved it there and had fabulous memories, it was myself, Diane, Lesley and Hilary plus Mr Blundant our manager. Do you remember the lift lady with blonde hair who I thought was always glamorous.

      • Anthony Beck July 1, 2019 at 5:14 pm #

        Hi you might remember my Mum, Margaret Beck.

      • Deanne August 15, 2022 at 4:12 pm #

        Mary…the lift lady was Mary. Don’t remember her last name.

      • Glyn Bates March 11, 2024 at 3:25 pm #

        Hi Leonie
        Late reply but the window dresser that did the stair case was Malcome Pillage who ended up years later being my groomsman. Do you recall a Margaret Hendricks?

    • Anthony Beck July 1, 2019 at 5:14 pm #

      Hi you might remember my Mum, Margaret Beck.

    • Stacey July 31, 2022 at 9:48 pm #

      Hi, I’m working on my family tree and the story is that my great grandma modelled lingerie for the buyers at Moores. Based on your experience, do you think there would be any records or way of tracing this time of her life at Moores?

      Thanks 🙂

  8. Lyndon Jeffree June 3, 2016 at 10:06 pm #

    Correction required in the 3rd paragraph, Sir Donald Dunstan was Premier of South Australia, not Governor

    • torchbearer June 30, 2018 at 1:13 am #

      Sir Donald, the Governor is not the same person as that excellent Premier.

    • Alex Riley May 16, 2021 at 6:41 pm #

      Sir Donald Dunstan was a Governor of Sth Aust

      Don Dunstan was a Premier of Sth Aust

  9. Margaret Inglis (nee Sweet) September 25, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

    The grand staircase in the original Moore’s building was designed by my uncle William Lucas. He was brought out from England expressly for the purpose, but he married my aunt Gwen Longmore and stayed on. His architectural firm Lucas and Parker also designed the Australia Hotel at North Adelaide and the old Police headquarters, which has since been replaced.

  10. Janice Lyons December 11, 2016 at 2:07 pm #

    My Aunty Lyla worked at Moores for years and was known by the surname Kingsley. I can not find her birth or marriage details and think her maiden name to be either Cherry or Walsh. Does anyone know whether the records for Moores have been kept?
    If she were alive she would be about 116 years old. Thanks

  11. Jacki Harding née Scarfe August 19, 2018 at 8:34 pm #

    I worked at Moores when I left school in 1956

    • Jill Gibb November 11, 2018 at 4:33 am #

      I went every week to get my hair done in the salon. I remember going up that beautiful staircase.

      • Patricia Westover December 30, 2023 at 1:28 pm #

        Jill I got my hair done every week up stairs, used to let us in early through the side door. as a child I played on the stair case it was my playground as my grandma lived around the corner by the market
        Great memories!

  12. david brown May 29, 2019 at 7:30 pm #

    My dad was Keith Brown who was state manager from 1965 till his sudden death in 1968. I remember the old store well as also Kadina store.I remember starting work in recieving and despatch on xmas holidays in1975. ( had to be there as I was only 14. Turned 15 started sat morns (no afternoon or late night)0830-1130. Started in Manchester dept. Mr Smith was supervisor. Then did a stint in china dept with Mrs Nicholson. 1979 came and Moores got me a job @ Myer.

    • robert ransley December 9, 2021 at 1:28 pm #

      hi David i worked at the Arndale store in 1967 i know there was Kadina store but was there on at Enfield ?

  13. Anthony Beck July 1, 2019 at 5:11 pm #

    My Mother Margaret Beck used to work there I remember going in to see her many times. She worked there in the 70’s I think till it closed as a ladies fashion buyer.

  14. Cynthia Henley-Smith September 24, 2019 at 4:12 pm #

    I was 9 and had been in Moores the day before the fire. I had looked with longing at the beautiful dolls. All I could think about when I heard about the fire the next day was that they could have given me one yesterday Now they are all burned.

  15. Ian Siebert February 25, 2020 at 9:40 am #

    My late elder sister worked there ,but hated the place…she probably started the fire
    As a little boy I used to meet her there after she finished work & loved ascending & descending the wonderful grand staircase whilst waiting.

  16. Gabriele (gabby) Hornung Beattie March 29, 2020 at 9:27 am #

    I worked for Moore’s in Adelaide and Melbourne back in the 60sand early 70 s

  17. Roger Trevor May 7, 2020 at 4:45 pm #

    My grandfather, F. C. Catt, was the first manager of Charles Moore’s Rundle Street store and, according to his contract, the original of which is still in my possession and dated 5th August 1898, he “will also if required by Mr Moore at any time manage or assist in the management of Mr Moore’s Gouger Street business”.
    It would appear therefore that Charles Moore probably had a store in that location for about 15 years before he had the magnificent building we all remember constructed in 1914.
    My grandfather left him in 1905- possibly buying his Rundle Street store, which became FC Catt Stores, boasting the largest continuous area of floor space in SA by 1911, but sadly he didn’t continue it.

  18. Daniel April 25, 2021 at 10:46 pm #

    My Grand Mother Elsie Reynolds was the buyer for women’s fashion for many years. She was a tailor and often flew to Sydney to choose the next range.

  19. Lesley August 4, 2021 at 6:33 pm #

    I visited Moore as a young child with my grandmother and was fascinated by the tubes zipping above us as they took payment and change between sales and accounts. Does anyone know what they were called?

  20. robert ransley December 9, 2021 at 1:29 pm #

    hi David i worked at the Arndale store in 1967 i know there was Kadina store but was there on at Enfield ?


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