Architect Personal DetailsArchitectural works in South Australia
Firms or Professional PartnershipsBibliographic Sources

Architect Personal Details



First name

Eric Phillipps








Eric Phillipps Danker was recognised in the years between 1912 and the Second World War for his fine artistically proportioned and detailed houses and articles in the popular press on architecture and civic planning.

Eric Phillipps Dancker was born in Norwood, the son of architect Frederick Wilhelm Dancker (1852-1936) and Clara Anne (nee Phillipps) (d.1939). His mother was a sister of (Sir) William Herbert Phillipps (1847–1935), a prominent South Australian businessman and philanthropist who was in a position to introduce clients to his relatives. Dancker was educated at St Peters College and in 1906 was articled to his father, becoming a partner in the firm F.W. Dancker and Son in 1913. He was a member of the South Australian Institute of Architects, becoming a Fellow on 6 December 1920 (SAIA Roll Book, AM). He continued to practice under this name until 1939.

In keeping with the spirit of a new century, F.W. Dancker and Son changed the style of their designs from the elaborate mansions of the late Victorian period to simpler and smaller houses suited to the servant-less household. The inspiration however came not from Federation, but from designs published in American and English journals. The plainer, redbrick and tiled roofed house in Buxton Street, North Adelaide (1909) and Tudor styled house at 5 Fitzroy Terrace, Thorngate, completed in 1912, (RAIA card index 1986) marked this development. This was followed by two bungalows, influenced by the Californian arts and crafts style. One has been absorbed into new development at Loreto College, Marryatville and the other is at Dequetteville Terrace, Kent Town.

Dancker’s enthusiasm for the arts and crafts ideals was documented in a letter he wrote to the artist Hans Heysen regarding further alterations and additions to the house at the Cedars, Hahndorf (1919) - Alfred Conrad had been responsible for the studio some six years earlier. His letter to Heysen read in part:
‘In work of this sort it must “evolve” more than be “dropped out of the sleeve.” I want to get a correct atmosphere about the place, and one which is local rather than exotic…..Do you think you could arrange to have the wood for verandah posts, half-timbering, beams etc., cut locally from red gum? If you could, we could use much heavier stuff at a reduced price, as well as having the satisfaction of knowing that it is what it is. We could leave this red gum to tone naturally without paint. The curved braces in the gable would be cut from curved branches, and everything pinned together with wooden pegs; in fact, the whole the whole thing constructed in the old fashioned way…’(Thiele 1968).

The development of new housing estates of Toorak Gardens, Springfield and Maxwell Terrace, Glengowrie, brought a number of new commissions. Toorak Gardens and Springfield had strict design standards which suited Dancker’s preference for English vernacular revival styles. He built the house in Toorak Gardens that he shared with his sister, directly opposite Attunga, which had been designed by his father and the contrast in style and scale is significant. Two red brick, Tudor styled houses on triangular blocks are signature examples of picturesque design and siting. At Springfield, in the 1920s he was commissioned to design and illustrate the sales office, street signs and furniture to promote the estate as the epitome of the garden suburb (Wilkinson Sando and Wyles Ltd, c1920s). A decade later, in 1937, the developer engaged him to design six new houses at Maxwell Terrace, Glengowrie to set a standard for land buyers to emulate (‘Six Houses for New Area’ 1937: 29). These modest designs display his skill at achieving a fine domestic quality through well resolved proportions, good craftsmanship and accomplished detailing.

Although most of his houses were for well-to-do clients in the Eastern suburbs, North Adelaide, Medindie and Walkerville, he was adept at designing on low budgets and won a competition for Adelaide Workmen’s Homes competition at Hilton in 1929, adopting the ‘Arts and Crafts picturesque cottage style’ (McDougall 1998: 256). A house ‘near Naracoorte’ (Apsley) for Sir Magnus Cormack was an essay in exploring an Australian domestic style and was noted for its use of pier and beam foundations (‘Passing By’, 1937: 4; ‘Pier and Beam System of foundations’, 1939: 17 ). Melbourne historian, Professor Miles Lewis records that it was built using pise using suitable soil found on the property. It was rendered with a mixture of lime and animal fat (Lewis).

Judging by reports in the newspapers he was prominent in Adelaide society. As honorary Vice Consul of Spain, he regularly attended levees at Government House, was honoured by the King of Spain in 1929, receiving the Cross of the Order of Merit, Naval (Second Class) for services rendered (‘Personal’, 1929: 45) and this was authorized by King George V in 1930 (‘Late King of Spain’, 1941: 11). The Critic, under the banner ‘Who’s who in Adelaide’, published a cartoon of him dressed as a bullfighter and noted his hobbies – books, applied art, antique collector and recreations as motoring and golf. He supported fashionable charity events as set designer for plays and fairs. At Moseley Square in Glenelg, he re-created an ‘old English town,’ to raise funds for a war memorial. For another fair he decorated the square as a ‘quaint Chinese village’ with pagodas, willow pattern tea gardens, temples and lanterns. The Mail, in a section headed ‘Talk of the Town: Men, Women and Gossip’ quoted Eric’s favourable comments on Adelaide’s climate and pretty girls, after returning from Melbourne (‘Talk of the Town’, 1935: 9).

His articles were not all frivolous. He wrote extensively on home design, showing examples of interior decoration and planning arrangements, campaigned successfully to have advertising signs removed from the Adelaide Hills roads, voiced opinions on town planning and civic design. He was critical of Light’s plan for Adelaide, called for an Australian style of housing, and explored ideas for housing the poor.

His architectural work came to a sudden halt in 1944 when his practice was closed. His library is now held by the Flinders University Library (Russell 1997) although no architectural records have been located.

John Schenk

Citation Details
Schenk, John, ‘Dancker, Eric Phillips’, Architecture Museum, University of South Australia, 2013, Architects of South Australia:




Architectural works in South Australia

Name Suburb Year Designed
House Thorngate 1912
House Toorak Gardens
Savings Bank Moonta
Bungalow Marryatville
The Cedars renovation Hahndorf
House Toorak Gardens
House Tusmore
Cottages Hilton
House Springfield
6 Houses Glengowrie
Institute Cadell
House Tusmore
House Gilberton
House Glenunga
House Walkerville

Firms or Professional Partnerships

Name Dates Worked
F.W. Dancker and Son 1913-1939 

Bibliographic Sources


Collins, J. 2012 'Dancker, F.W.' in Goad, P. and Willis, J. (eds) The encyclopedia of Australian architecture, Cambridge University Press: 191-192.
Dancker, F.W. 1904 Modern dwellings: 100 selected designs, Adelaide.
Marsden, S., Stark, P. and Sumerling, P. 1990 Heritage of the City of Adelaide: An illustrated guide, Corporation of the City of Adelaide, Adelaide.
McDougall, Katrina 1998 ‘The Commodity of Adelaide Workmen’s Homes 1890s-1930s’ in Firm(ness) commodity DE-light?: questioning the canons, papers from the 15th Annual conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand, Melbourne, Australia, September 1998: 252-257.
Page, Michael, 1986 Sculptors in Space: South Australian Architects 1836-1986, RAIA, Adelaide.
Russell, Allison, 1997 Liberated: the Dancker Collection of architectural books, an exhibition produced by Flinders Art Museum and presented at the Campus Gallery 7th November to 10th February 1998, Flinders University of South Australia, Adelaide.
Thiele, Colin, 1968, Heysen of Hahndorf, Rigby Ltd.

Collins, J. 2007 ‘Architects and Builders of South Australia – 3, Dancker, Frederick William, 1852 – 1936’, Heritage South Australia Newsletter, March 2007: 12-14.

‘Architect’s plans to End Slums’, Mail, 20 January 1940: 8.
‘Beautifying Roadways. Destruction of Trees Deplored’, Mail, 30 March 1935: 8.
‘Consulting the Architects about the New Central Railway Station’, Register, 21 November 1923: 9.
‘Court News in Brief’, Chronicle, 23 March 1944: 24.
‘Death of Mr F.W. Dancker, State’s Oldest Architect’, Advertiser, 29 August 1936: 22.
‘Family Notices’, South Australian Register, 6 January 1890: 2 (supplement).
‘Homemakers Page’, Advertiser, 14 February 1940: 23
‘Houses for the Workers’, News, 18 August 1923: 6.
‘Improving West Adelaide’, News, 14 January 1935: 6.
‘Late King of Spain’, Advertiser, 10 March 1941: 11.
‘Light’s Plan of City “Lacking Originality and Interest”’, Chronicle, 8 November 1934: 28.
‘Modern Homes’, Mail, 22 June 1940: 24.
‘Move to establish Folk Museum’, Advertiser, 22 February 1936: 21.
‘National Museum’, Advertiser, 22 April 1936: 22.
‘Obstacles to seafront work’, News, 21 January 1935: 2.
‘Passing By’, News, 22 June 1936: 4.
‘Personal’, Advertiser and Register, 15 April 1931: 8.
‘Personal’, Chronicle, 14 November 1929: 45.
‘Pier and Beam System of foundations’, Advertiser, 12 July 1939: 17.
‘Real estate and Building Construction. Cheerfulness as keynote of Modern Melbourne Architecture’, News, 13 March 1935: 7.
‘Real Property and the Home Builder’, Register, 8 October 1925: 5.
‘Save our Squares’, Advertiser, 21 June 1924: 11.
‘Savings Bank, Angaston’, Chronicle, 15 April 1916: 15.
‘Six Houses for New Area’, 6 March 1937: 29.
‘Sketch of the new Cadell Institute’, Advertiser, 17 November 1939: 13.
‘Spanish Architecture. Typical of a Sunny Land’, Register, 24 July 1924: 5.
‘Sussex Tradition in Domestic Architecture’, Mail, 18 May 1929: 13
‘Talk of the Town’, Mail, 9 March 1935: 9.
‘The House on the corner site’, Advertiser, 20 July 1938: 13.
‘Views and Comments. Destruction of Trees’, Advertiser, 20 October 1923: 8.
‘We can do more to improve Main roads in S.A.’, Mail, 23 March 1935: 10.
Advertiser, 6 February 1929.
Dancker, E. Phillipps, ‘Cheap but Modern Housing for poor’, Mail, 2 May 1936: 8.
Dancker, E. Phillipps, ‘Give us our wayside villages’, Mail, 6 April 1935: 8.
Dancker, E. Phillipps, ‘How can our city be improved? No. 1 – West Adelaide a Garden Suburb’, 12 January 1935: 8.
Dancker, E. Phillipps, ‘How can our city be improved? No. 2 – Seafronts and Foreshores’, Mail, 19 January 1935: 10.
Dancker, E. Phillipps, ‘How can our city be improved? No. 3 – Suburban Shops and Hotels’, Mail, 26 January 1935: 8.
Dancker, E. Phillipps, ‘How can our city be improved? No. 4 – Is there a Torrens Problem?’, Mail, 2 February 1935: 8.
Dancker, E. Phillipps, ‘How can our city be improved? No. 5 – The Garden City’, Mail, 9 February 1935: 10.
Dancker, E. Phillipps, ‘National Style in Architecture’, Advertiser, 8 December 1932: 9.

Wilkinson Sando and Wyles Ltd, ‘Springfield: A Beautiful Setting for beautiful homes protected by building restrictions’, no date c.1920s, photocopy held at Architecture Museum, University of South Australia (AM).

RAIA South Australia Significant 20th Century Architecture (1986) card index, RAIA collection, S301, AM.
SAIA Roll Book, Cheesman collection, S347, AM.

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