The Lewis Motor House, Victoria Square, Adelaide, 1904 - 1910

The growth of the motor business in caused Lewis to separate its Cycle and Motor businesses. While the cycle business took over the entire Gawler Place premises, the motor business moved into the purpose-built Motor House erected in 1904 on the western side of Victoria Square. At the Spring Show in early September 1904, visitors were urged to visit the display of cars at the recently-establish showroom on Victoria Square. "The motor house is well worthy of a visit by anyone interested."

The Lewis Motor House c1905

The Motor House nestled between two substantial buildings: it abutted the three-storey Mercantile Chambers to the north, and was separated from the the impressive Government Offices (now known as the Torrens Building) to the south by a narrow laneway. The inside of the Motor House, and its outlook onto the treed square, is the subject of photograph 07 of the Lewis Album.

Talbot, Rover and de Dion cars inside the Lewis Motor House c1905

The Motor House proper was a showroom for cars and motorcycles. The motor engineering aspects of the business were carried out in a new workshop located behind the Motor House, separated from it by narrow Molton Street. Had the photographer rotated his camera through 180 degrees on the tripod, he would most likely have looked out through the back doors of the Motor House, across Molton Street, and into the white garage with a view much like that in photograph 05.

Photograph B 7125 in the State Library collection shows a view looking south down Molton Street, with the rear of the Motor House just visible at the far end.

Despite its high-profile location, the Motor House lasted just a little over five years at this site before relocating to a much larger building - still named the Motor House - on Gawler Place South. A Lewis printed receipt used in the early teens listed both addresses, but the Victoria Square address disappeared from Lewis advertising in early 1910 so if the two buildings did overlap it was not for very long.

The State Library of South Australia holds a photograph (B 15680) taken in October 1964, showing the Motor House building immediately before its demolition. Other than some modifications to the veranda, the building appears little changed from its 1904 form.

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