Hedley Dunn practised as an architect from c.1885 both in Adelaide and interstate, and is most recognised for his collaboration with Henry Fuller on the 1901 Adelaide Stock Exchange building.
Born in North Adelaide on 27 October 1865 to John and Elizabeth (née Williams) Dunn, Hedley was the third of eight children (SA Births Index; Dunn Family PRG 1485/25). His paternal grandfather, John Dunn Senior, established the successful flour milling company Dunn & Co in Mount Barker which then extended to Port Adelaide, Bridgewater and other country areas, as well as having world-wide connections. Mr Dunn Senior lived at ‘The Laurels’ at Mount Barker and was a great philanthropist, particularly for the Methodist Church in that town, in Kent Town and beyond. John Dunn Junior was involved in the family company throughout his life, except for a time when he was a missionary in Fiji. Both Hedley’s father and grandfather were members of the South Australian State Parliament (‘Tribute to Pioneer’, 1936; 21; ‘New Flour Mill at Port Adelaide’, 1886: 7; ‘Death of Mr. John Dunn, Jun’, 1892: 7; Former Members of the Parliament of South Australia). His maternal grandfather was John Williams, ‘a well-known architect and builder who carried on business in North Adelaide’ (‘Death of Mrs Dunn’, 1929: 10).
It is not known where Dunn spent his early school days, however he attended Prince Alfred College (PAC) from 1873 to 1875 (PAC Archives). He then went to England with his older brother Frederick and attended a Methodist boys’ school, The Leys, near Cambridge. An 1880 letter from the latter to ‘Papa’ from The Leys, says in part, ‘… that Hedley also would have another year which would prove advantageous to him’. There was a further suggestion that they would then return to Australia via the Continent (‘John Bull conceited, says architect’, 1929: 11; PRG 1485/20). Dunn married Annie Elizabeth Powis Jordan in Queensland in 1896. Their son, Cedric Leighton Dunn (1896-1962) worked for the Queensland Public Works Department from 1914 (Watson & McKay: 57). According to family papers, the couple may have had at least two sons (Family tree notes PRG 1485/25). An amateur painter, Dunn became an Associate of the Queensland Art Society in 1894, exhibiting landscapes in the following two years (Watson & McKay: 57). In Adelaide he was an active member of the PAC Old Collegians, a vocalist at the Society of Arts and a performing member of the Lyric Club (Prince Alfred College Chronicle, 1905: 205; ‘Amusements Lyric Club’, 1913:9). Dunn died at Parkside, South Australia in a hospital or institution on 4 June 1942. No mention of family was made in his brief death notice (‘Births, Marriages and Deaths’, 1942: 8). His modest house at 55 East Terrace, Kensington Gardens, and effects, were subsequently offered for auction by Magaw & Hogg in conjunction with Executor Trustee and Agency Co on 12 August 1942 (‘House and Furniture Sale’, 1942: 7).
Upon Dunn’s return to Australia in 1881, he worked for the Melbourne architectural firms of Ellerker and Kilburn, and Oakden, Addison and Kemp. At some point he represented the latter in Auckland, New Zealand for a proposed sanatorium at the Hot Springs, Waiwera. Dunn also worked in Brisbane before returning to Adelaide where he undertook architectural studies (Watson & McKay: 57). In 1884 he joined the committee of the Architectural Students Association and was one of three out of six students to pass the first annual architectural examinations in the Colony (Jensen and Jensen: 770-71). A notebook belonging to Dunn (PRG 1485/11) from that time has brief notes from lectures given by Mr G.K.Soward on Styles of Architecture, Mr Sykes on Plumbing and Mr Davies on Design Principles. References noted were by Pugin (Gothic Architecture), Chambers (Civil Architecture), Nicholson (Practical Architecture) and by French architect, E. Viollet-le-Duc (How to build a house). There are also numerous sketches, a glossary of terms and notes on possible projects or commissions.
It appears Dunn commenced his own practice in Adelaide in 1886 with offices in Freeman Street which were probably located in the Dunn & Co building, given his later move there (‘Tenders’, 1886: 8; Jensen and Jensen: 781). In September 1887, Edward Davies took on Hedley Dunn as a partner in his architectural firm at Stow Manse Chambers, Flinders Street Adelaide. The Advertiser stated that ‘Mr Dunn has recently travelled over the Continent of Europe and through America, and has since then practised his profession in Melbourne and Adelaide’ (Advertiser,1887: 5). This partnership dissolved by mutual agreement just one year later (‘Partnerships and Businesses’, 1888: 8). The next day the Register noted that Dunn had submitted plans for the Royal Bank of Queensland in Brisbane (‘Royal Bank of Queensland’, 1888: 7). In early December he advised he had opened a temporary office in Dunn & Co’s buildings, Freeman Street (‘Professional’, 1888: 2). Although he was unsuccessful with the bank proposal, Dunn returned to Brisbane and by 1890 had established his own practice as well as acting as local agent for Dunn & Co.’s Eclipse Flour (Watson & McKay: 57). From 1897, having undertaken a tour of the colonies, Dunn had rooms at Broken Hill Chambers, King William Street, and had become a Fellow of the South Australian Institute of Architects (‘Mr. H. A. Dunn’, 1897: 5; ‘Tenders’, 1897: 3).
In 1899 Dunn joined with Adelaide architect Henry Ernest Fuller for several projects. They were awarded second prize for the Young Women’s Christian Association design competition, and impressed the judges to such a degree that they won first and second prizes for the Adelaide Stock Exchange, a project commemorating Australian Federation (Collins, 2008). Dunn , being ‘the senior in practice’, acted as the supervisory architect for this project, although a 1900 report was at pains to clarify that ‘ in all important matters Messrs. Dunn and Fuller will act in conjunction’( Register,1900: 7; ‘Concerning People’, 1903: 4,5). Family correspondence indicates he was again in England in 1902 (PRG 1485/20).
Having joined the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church established by John Alexander Dowie, Hedley Dunn left Adelaide for Zion City, USA in1903 hoping ‘to be professionally engaged on the architectural staff of the city’. By the next year he had returned and, in a lecture to the Society of Arts, explained that ‘the intense cold forced him to return to Adelaide (‘Concerning People’, 1903: 4,5; ‘An Adelaide Artist in Zion City’, 1904: 34.). In 1907-08 Dunn unsuccessfully applied for a post with the Queensland Public Works Department as he wished to relocate to Brisbane for ‘private reasons’ (Watson & McKay: 57). Watson and McKay state that he was then working for the South Australian Works Department. In 1909 Dunn moved his Adelaide practice to Cavendish Chambers, 33 Grenfell Street (‘Public Notices’, 1909: 2,4). Willis (1998) notes that Charles H.Marryat, who had also been at Broken Hill Chambers, moved to this address at the same time leading to speculation they were either in partnership or sharing an office. From 1919 Dunn practised from his private residence at 55 East Terrace, Kensington Gardens, finally omitting the listing of architect in 1934 (Sands & McDougall Directories).
With regard to professional service, Dunn was a Council Member for the South Australian Institute of Architects from 1902 to 1903 and again from 1911to 1912, as well as Auditor from1904 to 1905 (Cheesman Collection, Architecture Museum).
He had a public profile with regard to the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church, giving a public lecture for and about the Church in the Federation Hall, Grote Street in1905. He was also a member of the Council of Arts in South Australia (Advertiser, 1905: 2; Cheesman Collection). His public profile in Adelaide does not appear to have continued from 1915 to 1928 (Trove online newspapers). In 1929 Dunn was featured in the News upon his return from six months in the United Kingdom. He had apparently travelled there for health reasons and with a view to remaining in that country, however aspects of life in the UK, for him, were not up to Australian standards. From an architectural perspective, he commented on how the UK was catching up to America in its use of steel framing (‘John Bull conceited, says architect’, 1929: 11).
Dunn’s first architectural commission in South Australia was the Dunn & Co Flour mill at Port Adelaide in 1886 (‘New Flour Mill at Port Adelaide’, 1886: 7). Family connections may have also assisted in him being responsible for the design of the new organ casing for Kent Town Methodist Church in c.1887 (‘Church Choirs: No. 2 Kent Town Methodist’, 1927: 16) During his partnership with Edward Davies, they were awarded first prize for their design of the proposed Commercial Bank, 25-27 King William Street (‘New Commercial Bank Building’, 1888: 4,5).
Returning to Adelaide from Brisbane in the late 1890s, Dunn worked predominantly in the residential sector but was also responsible for the specifications for the renovation of the Dunn Memorial Church at Mount Barker in 1899 (‘‘Tenders’, 1898: 8; ‘Church Intelligence’, 1899: 16).
It is the former Adelaide Stock Exchange building, done in collaboration with Fuller, for which he is best known. Walter Torode was the contractor (Bell, 2008). Built in 1901, it is a rare example of Federation/Edwardian style in Adelaide. Furthermore, its Arts and Crafts influences were not common in commercial buildings at that time. A feature of this red brick building was the stained glass window made in William Morris & Co.’s workshop thanks to George Brookman’s philanthropy. It was designed by John Henry Dearle with three of the six panels after the designs of pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne Jones. It suffered two fires (1930s and 1980s) which led to internal refitting. The Stock Exchange moved in 1991 and the building now houses RiAus, a sister science organisation to the Royal Institution of Great Britain. The western end has been restored to its former 1901 status whilst the eastern end has a more contemporary space (Page: 118; AHPI; RiAus: History of the Science Exchange).
Upon Dunn’s return to Adelaide from Zion City in 1904, he continued to work mostly in the residential sector. He was responsible for a sports pavilion (demolished c.1963) and the wrought iron railing fence (extant) on Dequetteville Terrace for PAC. The PAC Chronicle in 1904 referred to Dunn as ‘an old boy of great reputation for professional ability’ and commented that ‘Park railings stretching 1,600 feet, have not before, we believe, been made and erected in this state, so it will require great skill to carry out the job well’. In 1909 he won the competition at Broken Hill for new premises for the Y.M.C.A. (‘Concerning People’, Register, 23 December 1909: 7). To date, no records of commissions after 1911 have been located.
McDougall, Alison, ‘Dunn, Hedley Allen’, Architecture Museum, University of South Australia, 2014, Architects of South Australia: [http://www.architectsdatabase.unisa.edu.au/arch_full.asp?Arch_ID=117]