The original portion of Government House was completed in 1840 and designed by George S Kingston in the Georgian/Regency style. The building comprises two main wings- one facing east and one facing south. The original design was adapted from one made in London for a wooden structure by Edward O’Brien, architect, but the building was put up in stone under the supervision of Kingston who must have modified the original design. The builders were East & Breeze. It is the earliest surviving as well as the most typically Regency building in Adelaide.
South Australia’s first Government House was a three-roomed thatched wattle and daub hut with calico ceilings, situated on the site of the present Adelaide Railway Station. Between 1838 and 1840, at the instigation of Governor Gawler, work began on the eastern section of this building. This section included the East Hall, the Morning Room, the Boudoir, the Drawing Room, and the Cloak Room. Then in 1855 the central (southern facing) portion was added which included the Ballroom, the State Dining Room, the Adelaide Room, the Governor’s Study, the South Hall, and the Portico. In 1878 the Billiard Room, the Private Secretary’s Office, the Porter’s Hall, and the Strong Room were built. Stone for the 1855 additions came from the Government Quarry nearby on the site of the present Torrens Parade Ground. Stained glass windows at the northern end of the Ballroom were installed during the visit of the Duke of York in 1901.
Because Government House has been primarily the home of all Governors since its completion in 1840 through to the present day, the residence, the grounds and its contents figure prominently in the social and political history of South Australia. As well as being the oldest public building in South Australia it is also architecturally most significant as the finest example of a Georgian mansion in South Australia.
Current status and listings
1855 additions - Central (southern facing) portion.
1878 additions -