The former Our Boys Institute building is of heritage significance because of its association with the Our Boys Institute movement. Modelled on and supported by the Adelaide Branch of the YMCA, the OBI fostered the physical and mental health of 13 to 18 year old boys and was a forerunner of the various youth groups which flourished in the first half of the twentieth century.
Constructed for the OBI in 1897 the building housed various lecture and games rooms, a library and reading room, a large gymnasium, indoor running track and swimming baths at the rear. Built at a total cost of over 4,000 pounds, all raised by public subscription, and staffed by volunteer instructors and officials, the OBI Building illustrates the commitment of a group of prominent South Australian businessmen to the physical, moral, and spiritual development of boys and young men. As well as offering self-improvement classes and a variety of sporting activities, the Institute also ran an annual camp for its members, and assisted them to find employment. The OBI occupied the building until 1961, when it amalgamated with the Youth Clubs Association of South Australia to become the South Australian Sports Club (OBI) Incorporated, based at Woodville.
Designed by F W Dancker in the Venetian Gothic style, of which there are few other examples in Adelaide, the building exhibits a high quality of design, and its elaborately detailed three-storey sandstone facade is of particular note. The remainder of the building, which has been substantially altered, is not included in the listing.
[Adapted from: Flightpath Architects Pty Ltd 'Conservation Plan for 219-223 Wakefield Street Adelaide (former Our Boys' Institute)' October 2005]