The house and outbuildings stand isolated amid commercial premises at the western end of Currie Street where they were once surrounded by houses and shop/residences typical of the west end. Residential complexes which include the once common outbuildings, such as the stable, are now scarce throughout South Adelaide.
The complex was constructed in 1874 by James Anderson who came to Adelaide from Scotland in 1851 ' . . . and for many years carried on business as builder and contractor. A number of the large public buildings in Adelaide were erected by him'. For some years he also represented Gawler Ward as member of the Adelaide City Council.
Anderson paid particular attention to the construction of his new house which he called Darnley House. The complex is of architectural as well as historical significance because of the construction technique. The combination of bluestone for plinth and quoins, limestone rubble for walling as well as the brick dressings (with some fine gauged brickwork to windows), is unusual. It is interesting to note the slate damp-proof course in the outbuildings. These were probably constructed at a later date, the stable during the 1890s when the size of the yard was increased.
The property passed to George McNamara in 1912 who owned it until his death in 1971. His long ownership and the substantial construction of the complex may have contributed to its survival when all around, lesser dwellings were being demolished. By the 1930s this part of Adelaide was publicly condemned as a slum where substandard nineteenth century housing conditions were made worse by their proximity to increasing numbers of factories. A survey was carried out in 1937 for a Building Act Inquiry Committee which reported in 1940 on substandard housing conditions in the metropolitan area. Of the 7716 dwellings surveyed in Adelaide, 3009 were described as substandard, many of those photographed in the report were in the west end.
The report hastened the demolition of housing and the destruction of the close-knit residential life of much of the west end which was replaced by industrial and commercial uses. Between 1957 and 1967 the percentage of residential landuse in the city's north-western corner dropped from 50 per cent to 15 per cent.