Government House, Adelaide
The original 'Government Hut' was a thatched hut constructed by the seamen of the HMS Buffalo. Governor Hindmarsh wrote in May 1837 I have but one end of my mud hut finished an all my family lay on the floor of one room while two smaller ones serve for Mrs. H., myself and a female servant.
When Lieutenant Colonel George Gawler replaced John Hindmarsh in 1838, he abandoned plans for a permanent house of timber and gave directions for the erection of a new building of masonry to cost £4,000 - if possible, but not to exceed £5,000.
A plan had been obtained from an English architect, Edward O'Brien, but this was amended by George Strickland Kingston, who had come to South Australia as an assistant to the Surveyor General, William Light, and who had had some experience in architecture and building. When Kingston received tenders for the proposed work they were in the vicinity of £7,000. After further amendment of the plans to reduce the cost, a contract was let to the builders, Messrs East and Breeze.
The earliest part of the House to be built was the east wing of the present building. It was completed and occupied in May 1840. Government House is thus probably the second oldest continuously occupied house in the State, after Walkley cottage in St Marks College, Pennington Terrace, North Adelaide, which was first occupied in mid-1839. When completed, Government House consisted of the present main Drawing Room, Morning Room, Small Dining Room, and upstairs there were three bedrooms, a dressing room and two small servants' rooms.
After Governor Gawler was recalled to England in 1841, partly because of his "extravagant" building programs, his successors Mr. George Grey and Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Holt Robe found it necessary to spend the least possible amount on the house.
Governors, their families and house guests make use of all the upstairs rooms.
Governors formerly used a summer residence in the Adelaide Hills to escape the heat of the Adelaide Plains. Two buildings were used for this purpose. The first of these, Old Government House, was built in Belair National Park in 1860. In 1880, this building was superseded by a larger residence at Marble Hill near Norton Summit, until it was destroyed in the Black Sunday Bushfire of 1955. Subsequently, the Governor was not provided with a summer residence.
Government House is located in magnificent well kept grounds which are periodically used for important public ceremonies.
Examples of these include:
- Presentation of Year 12 Merit certificates
- Presentation of Queen's Scout and Queen's Guide awards
- Work in progress
Government House is surrounded by prominent public buildings, statues and memorials.
Work in progress:
- North Terrace, Adelaide
- Jubilee 150 Walkway
- Torrens Parade Ground
- South African War Memorial (South Australia)
- National War Memorial (South Australia)
- There is a plaque on the front gatehouse which says:
Near this spot the first Government House of the Province of South Australia was erected in 1837. It was built of earth and wood, with thatched roof, by marines fron the "Buffalo". Occupied first by Governor Hindmarsh and later by Governor Gawler. It was destroyed by fire in 1841.
The first portion of the present Government House was built in 1839.
Erected by the City Council 1928.
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