The oldest part of Ayers House, a gracious bluestone mansion on North Terrace east in Adelaide, was built by Robert Thornber in 1846. The house was bought by William Paxton, a director of the South Australian Mining Association (owner of the Burra Mine), and extended by the addition of brick side wings by 1852. Henry Ayers, secretary of the association and later a prominent politician, first leased the house in 1855 and then bought it in 1871. During his occupancy, the house was progressively extended to its present grand form by architect George Strickland Kingston, with the addition of an upper storey, coach house and further side wings housing formal entertaining rooms. Predominantly in bluestone, the house has Kingston’s characteristic arched porches and semi-circular fronts, and its western dining room is one of South Australia’s notable interiors. After Ayers’ death in 1897, the house was only occasionally used by his heirs, then bought by the state in 1926 and converted to quarters for Royal Adelaide Hospital nurses. In 1972 it became the National Trust of South Australia headquarters for some years, and is now occupied by restaurants, with its formal rooms publicly accessible as a museum.
Marsden, Susan, Paul Stark & Patricia Sumerling eds, Heritage of the City of Adelaide: An illustrated guide (Adelaide: Corporation of the City of Adelaide, 1990)