One of the great things about just going out for a wander or getting around a city on foot is that you come across places like this. Interesting places, but not must see tourist attractions, they are great ‘spacefillers’ between more significant sights.
In 1877, German emigrant and veteran of the Franco-Prussian war, Otto Boettger, set up a business here on Flinders Street making and repairing scientific equipment and instruments – theodolites, sextants, barometers, sundials, spectacles, binoculars, telescopes and much more. Boettger was the sole agent in Australia for Dr Carl Zeiss products.
Boettger’s business proved very successful and in 1897 he sold it to G.C.Kohler, also a manufacturing optician, who with his family continued to trade under Boettger’s name until 1974. Boettger returned to Germany in 1899.
In 1906 Kohler had this this very distinctive and individual property – ‘Observatory House’ – constructed. The tower, in Queen Anne style, was added so that his clientele could check out his wares prior to purchase and it quickly came serve as a symbol for the ‘Boettger’ business.
While Observatory House symbolised the business it was more a showroom and the main business was run from the building next door, on the right in my second attached picture, thought that building was a simpler two story affair in former times (picture 4 – 1912 – courtesy of the State Library of South Australia).
Today the heritage listed Observatory House is used as legal offices.