History of One Tree Hill and the Institute
The One Tree township is located some distance from the old One Tree Hill Inn, which may explain why it went out of business. By 1858, the town had a general store and post office. In 1864 the population consisted of a blacksmith (the Blacksmith Inn was the original residence and business of Andrew Shillabeer, the town blacksmith), clerk, farmers, mason, shoemaker and store-keeper. Early settler families in the area included Alexander, Butler, Bowman, Garlick, Gould, Ifould, Innes, Kelly, Richardson and Shillabeer. The first school in the area was Precolumb built in the early 1850s; the school was also used for social gatherings until the Institute was built.
The One Tree Hill Institute was built in 1906. It is now owned by the Playford Council and administered by the One Tree Hill Progress Association. Much interest, planning and fund raising went into the project long before the building was commenced. In 1906 an interested group of citizens led by E.A. Kelly and R. Fiebig, encouraged by a local Member of Parliament S.B. Randall, who had raised £207 towards the project. This with the promise of a loan from Arthur Thomas for the remaining amount needed, led to the hiring of Adelaide architect W. Walls to draw up plans. Later, contractors R. Hymers (masonry) and W. Wright (carpentry) were hired to begin building.
The foundation stone quarried from nearby Cornishman’s Hill Road was used for the building which was completed in February 1907. At the opening ceremony onlookers were encouraged to place donations for the project on the newly positioned foundation stone with a generous amount being raised. It is not known who owned, sold, or donated the strategically placed allotment which housed the project, but the community over the years has had cause to be grateful for such a central location. The original building included a piano and furniture, total cost was £687.
The opening ceremony was performed by former Premier R. Butler who grew up in the district and it was very well attended. The event was followed by a bazaar organized by local ladies, many of the names of those involved are recognizable today by people still living in the area. There were items for sale, fun activities and displays which together with a ‘promenade concert’ in the evening raised a further £100 towards costs. The building consisted of a hall and stage with two underground rooms connected by a staircase and was in constant demand for a variety of functions which included concerts by well known local and visiting artists, a monthly dance, table tennis, school concerts, agricultural bureau meetings, tennis and other club meetings as well as many individual and fund raising functions. The downstairs area was used as a local library for a time but was never very successful owing to the dampness of the area and eventually the area was closed off from inside. In 1967 the Methodist Church was built.
A monument honoring those residents who served or gave their lives in two World Wars was erected outside the building and more recently a flag pole was erected. A supper room was added after WW 11 with further additions in the late 1970’s. Late last century, local fund raising assisted by Council grants doubled the size of the original building, the extension was built using materials that were closely matched with the original stonework.
The Institute now boasts a fully enclosed playground and modern restrooms inside. Landscaping around the building was performed by the Playford Council and the generous donation bequeathed to the Institute by the Clucas family. The Institute is now a very well equipped building to cater for a variety of functions and is a valuable asset to all of the residents of One Tree Hill and districts.