Ada Elizabeth Chenoweth


The Metropolitan Infectious Diseases Hospital was established on 7th October 1932 by the South Australian Government, much to the relief of the overcrowded Infectious Diseases Block at the Adelaide Hospital, North Terrace.  The hospital was designed to care for and accommodate patients with infectious diseases such as polio, scarlet fever, measles and diphtheria.

The new Metropolitan Infectious Diseases Hospital was an autonomous organisation controlled by its own Board of Management and its finance was maintained solely by the contributions of local councils. 

Miss Ada  Elizabeth Chenoweth was the first Matron of the Metropolitan Infectious Diseases Hospital, and worked in that role from the 7th October 1932 until the 31st March 1948.

CHENOWETH, Miss Ada Elizabeth (Matron)

Photo sourced from front cover of Booklet: Hampstead Centre Nurses Graduation Program, 1987


Ada Elizabeth Chenoweth was born on the 7th November 1882 in Aldinga, South Australia. She was the eldest child of John James Chenoweth and Sophia Hunt.  She never married, and dedicated her life to her nursing career.


Ada had 10 younger siblings (5 brothers and 5 sisters): Mathew William Chenoweth, Robert James Chenoweth, Lillian May (Chenoweth) Whitehouse, Rose (Chenoweth) Butterworth, Ben Chenoweth, Sophia (Chenoweth) Trengrove, Alice (Chenoweth) Henriksen, John Hunt Chenoweth, Amy (Chenoweth) Beare and Laurence Chenoweth.

Ada Elizabeth, the eldest child, is seated to the left in the front row.
(Photo sourced from Wikitree, uploaded from a family collection, date unknown)

Her father, John James Chenoweth, was a well-respected local preacher in the Willunga Methodist Church.  He also served as a member of the Aldinga District Council, and was a member of the ‘Ancient Order of Foresters’.   

“The Ancient Order of Foresters”, which originated in England in the mid-1700s, established its first branch (Court) in South Australia in early 1847.  

Set up as a non-profit organisation, the founding principles of the Society being to provide financial and social benefits as well as support to members and their families in times of unemployment, sickness, death, disability and old age.

After selling his farm in Aldinga, John Chenoweth moved with his family to Norwood in 1918, where he remained until his death in 1930.

At the time of this article (News, Adelaide, SA,  Monday 14 January 1935) Ada Chenoweth was residing with her mother in Norwood,
South Australia.


Prior to her role as Matron of the Metropolitan Infectious Diseases Hospital, Miss Chenoweth trained and worked at the Adelaide Hospital including in the Flinders Ward, which was a female ward in the 1890’s.

In this photo, Dr Reilly is seated at a central table with Sister Hardy standing beside him. Nurse Deer is standing on the left and Nurse Chenoweth is seated on the right.
 (Photograph by Ernest Gall, 1890).
Advertiser (Adelaide, SA) Friday 12th April 1932; Inspection of the Infectious Diseases Hospital

Advertiser (Adelaide, SA) Tuesday 29 March 1932

After leaving her position as Matron of the Infectious Diseases Hospital, Ada Chenoweth worked at the Nyora Rest Home, Fullarton, South Australia.


Ada Elizabeth Chenoweth died on the 14th August, 1954, age 71. Ada Chenoweth is buried at the Payneham Cemetery, in the same gravesite as her parents, John and Sophia Chenoweth.

More Information about the Metropolitan Infectious Diseases Hospital can be found here:

Written by Karyn Baker, CALHN Health Museum Volunteer