Ayers House is Adelaide’s finest Victorian-era home, and one of the last remaining grand 19th century residences that once lined the North Terrace cultural boulevard.
Ayers House is named after its original owner Sir Henry Ayers, distinguished politician, financier and Premier of South Australia, who lived in the house with his family during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Originally it was known simply as 288 North Terrace. Constructed of local bluestone, the design of the house is attributed to Sir George Strickland Kingston, architect of the colony and the man responsible for the design of many a grand mansion and public building.
The museum began its life as a small nine-bedroom brick cottage built by William Paxton – a chemist and early Adelaide entrepreneur. Henry Ayers expanded the house in several stages with the final stage completed around 1870.
After Henry’s death the property was sold, its house and grounds becoming a ‘pleasure resort’ known as Austral Gardens with an open-air theatre and the Palais de Danse. The First World War and its aftermath saw the house serve as a club for the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League, before the South Australian Government acquired it in 1926 for use by the Royal Adelaide Hospital as a nurses’ residence and training school.
The National Trust of South Australia has managed the museum and maintained public access to the house since 1973. During that time the rooms have been refurnished and major conservation work has been undertaken to preserve the house and its superb, hand-painted decoration.
Come down and enjoy this unique landmark in the heart of Adelaide’s East End, and take part in our exciting program of events, exhibitions and family-friendly programming.