19th Century & Early 20th Century

Ayers House is considered to be one of the finest examples of Colonial Regency architecture in Australia and remains the largest and best preserved of the houses designed by George Strickland Kingston.

It is believed that the story begun in 1845 when Robert Thornber, gentleman, built a small cottage on Town Acre No. 30, which he then sold to William Paxton. In 1855 Paxton sailed for England and let the house to Henry Ayers. Paxton never returned to South Australia and in 1871 Henry Ayers finally purchased the property for 400 pounds.

Henry Ayers had gradually enlarged the house in stages, beginning in 1858 with the addition of library (still named the Library), bedrooms (now the Henry Ayers Room) and a ballroom (still named as the Ballroom) which was completed in 1860. In 1862 the ballroom was exquisitely decorated with intricate designs in gold leaf, while chandeliers were hung from two ornate ceiling roses. The Ballroom is completely restored to its former glory.

Henry Ayers fortune was founded on the Burra Copper Mines and his political life began in 1857 when he was elected a member of the first Legislative Council. During a 38 year political career, he was Premier seven times, Cabinet Minister 11 times and President of the Legislative Council for 12 years. His name was the centre of Adelaide's society and political life for 30 years.

Sir Henry not only held his famous parties, but also regularly hosted luncheons and dinners. His grandson remembers he “gave great care and forethought to the selection of the menu and wines that accompanied it” and the wine vaults “which were of the most ample and spacious description”.

After Sir Henry’s death in 1897, there was a period of in-occupancy, then the house was used as a club for Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League (RSL) and nurses residence and training school for 40 years until 1969. 

Beginnings & Today of Ayers House Functions

In 1972, the Government of Premier Don Dunstan redeveloped the property and the new complex was opened in the following years. In addition to the Henry Ayers Restaurant (now the Henry Ayers Room), the coach house and the stables area was adapted, which in 1985 further renovations took place adding the spectacular glass-domed roof, now Henry's Brasserie.

Ayers House Functions today takes pride in the long history of Ayers House hospitality with married couples celebrating their Wedding Receptions, guests hosting celebrations for christenings, significant birthdays, anniversaries and organisations making an impression for seminars, conferences, sales events and private dinners at Ayers House for over 30 years!