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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Soward, George Klewitz (1857–1941)

by S. H. Gilbert

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

George Klewitz Soward (1857-1941), architect, was born on 27 August 1857 at Norwood, Adelaide, son of George Soward, timber merchant, ironmonger and later supervisor of public works, and his second wife Bertha, née Klewitz. Having attended the Collegiate School of St Peter in 1867-74, George was articled to Thomas English, architect; in 1880 they formed English & Soward. A handsome youth with a luxuriant, stylish moustache, Soward married Emmy Lucy Charlotte Beare on 7 April 1880 at St Barnabas's Church, Clare; they lived at Glenelg and were to have two daughters and a son. The architectural partnership ended with English's death in 1884; his son J. W. English joined the firm, as did Soward's son Lewis Douglas from 1921 until his death in 1924. A partnership with H. M. Jackman lasted from 1925 until Soward's retirement in 1936.

Examples of Soward's work in Adelaide included the Beehive Corner (1896), the Widows' Fund Building in Grenfell Street (1888), Ware Chambers in King William Street (1890, since demolished) and Gawler Chambers in North Terrace (1914). Soward also built warehouses and woolstores, but his significant contribution to South Australian architecture endures in his twenty or so fine houses in Adelaide and its suburbs. Of these, Culver House, Walkerville (1881), shows a somewhat confused style in which the Italianate bones are dressed in Tudor detail. By 1884 Soward had designed and built a town house at 64 Pennington Terrace, North Adelaide, exhibiting the Gothic detail for which he had a preference. He built Eothen, East Terrace, 76 Le Fevre Terrace, North Adelaide (1914), and designed the large home at 52 Brougham Place, North Adelaide (demolished 1969); in the mid-1920s he designed a mansion, 19 Palmer Place, North Adelaide, which still stands. In the last three, Soward abandoned his Gothic style.

For the first thirty years his houses were usually constructed of stone, with brick dressings and gabled roofs of unpainted corrugated iron; they were two-storied and frequently had pointed arches in the manner of A. W. Pugin. In an age of cast-iron lacework, Soward was sparing in its use. His love of Gothic detail was usually restricted to his domestic work, but it also surfaced in some commercial sites: Epworth Building (1927), the Bank of Victoria and Alexandra Chambers. He was architect to the South Australian Jockey Club for which he designed a grandstand at Morphettville Racecourse.

A member of the South Australian Institute of Architects and the Adelaide Club, he was a director of City Permanent Building & Investment Society and the Glenelg Railway Co., and chairman of the Charitable Funds Commission. He was a governor of the Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of South Australia, president of Glenelg Cricket Club and mayor of Glenelg in 1895-98. In 1902-05 he represented Torrens as a conservative in the South Australian House of Assembly.

Soward compiled Glenelg Illustrated (Adelaide, 1896) and wrote a novel, The Mirthful Mutineer, published in the Australian Women's Mirror (Sydney). In 1909-10 he contributed a love story with a local German flavour, 'A Chance Word', and 'Art and Letters in Adam Lindsay Gordon's Country' to the Lone Hand: both revealed his sensitivity. Soward died on 21 February 1941 and was buried in the cemetery at St Jude's Anglican Church, Brighton.

Select Bibliography

  • E. J. R. Morgan and S. H. Gilbert, Early Adelaide Architecture 1836-1886 (Melb, 1969)
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 24 Feb 1941
  • family papers (privately held).

Citation details

S. H. Gilbert, 'Soward, George Klewitz (1857–1941)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 26 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

View the front pages for Volume 12

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