H.L. Ayers and his brothers enjoyed the reflected glory of their father, Sir Henry, and were part of Adelaide’s social and financial elite. H.L. Ayers was a founding member of the Adelaide Hunt Club. He married Ada, a daughter of Sir John Morphett, typically consolidating through marriage the Adelaide establishment’s influence. When he died in 1905 his wife commissioned the world-renowned Tiffany Company to design windows (formerly at St Paul’s) as her memorial to him.
By 1867, H.L. Ayers owned the land on which Dimora was built. This extended from East Terrace to Hutt Street. It included Bray House, in which Ayers and his family lived during the 1870s. In 1878 the property was subdivided and John Bray bought the western half.
H.L. Ayers commissioned the design of a suitably grand residence with a large ballroom facing East Terrace. It was built in 1882, and designed almost certainly by William McMinn.
During his brief life (1844-84) McMinn designed several mansions, including Mount Breckan at Victor Harbor; Marble Hill, the vice-regal residence above Norton Summit; Montefiore in Palmer Place; and the home of Frederic Ayers at 21-25 Lefevre Terrace, in association with E.J. Woods. He was also connected with the design of the Supreme Court, the Crown & Sceptre Hotel, and the terrace of shops and dwellings for the South Australian Company in Rundle Street.
Dimora is one of the most highly developed examples of the bay-windowed villa, a much-favoured style in boom-period mansions. The building has been renovated and subdivided for multiple occupancy. The renovators have shown high regard for the fittings and detailing of the well-finished and mostly original interior. Externally the disciplined use of stuccoed detail, combined with simple cast-iron enrichment, is typical of McMinn’s work. This large house of 20 main rooms is still a prominent part of East Terrace, which is still graced by imposing late-Victorian residences.