Gable House

Gable House

Development at North Adelaide was clearly affected by social and economic events at large. The original burst of speculative development after settlement in Adelaide in 1837 was followed by recession, followed in turn by the copper mining boom, then Victorian goldfields.

However, by the mid-1850s South Australian society was settling in for a long period of consolidation and rising prosperity. At North Adelaide both private and public buildings reflected that process. This house is a good example of the type constructed at the beginning of that era for the increasing numbers of modestly prosperous middle-class residents.

The house was built in 1856 for Moses Frith. Its form is typical of the early constructional genre with adjoined gable-ended roof sections and limestone rubble walling. It is unusual as the building presents its gables to the street and features quality brickwork, particularly above the main entrance, which is flanked by distinctively corbelled brickwork leading to the diminutive and decorative parapet. The brick strings, surrounds to openings and gauged brickwork, copings and quoins are of high quality, which is unusual for a house of such early construction.

Apart from its general historical significance, this was the home of the botanical artist Rosa Catherine Fiveash and her father Robert Archibald Fiveash, an early colonist and later manager of the Blinman and Yudnamutana mines in the Flinders Ranges.

Rosa was born in Adelaide on July 22, 1854, as the youngest child of R.A. Fiveash and lived in Gable House with her sister all her life from early childhood. Trained by Miss Agnes Benham and then at the Adelaide School of Art and Design between 1881-88, she taught art privately and at Tormore House School in North Adelaide. She illustrated for several scientists, her first project being an unfinished one of nine parts that were published between 1882-90 in John Ednie Brown’s study The Forest Flora of South Australia. She illustrated scientific work for Sir Edward C. Stirling and E.R. Waite, and collaborated with Dr R.S. Rogers for 30 years while he studied orchids and illustrated his section on orchids in J.M. Black’s Flora of South Australia. Rogers described her as the foremost Australian artist of her day. By 1900 her reputation was so great that Lord Tennyson and Robert Barr Smith bought some of her works as a gift to the colony.

In the 1930s Rosa Fiveash presented many of her paintings to the Public Library of South Australia. She was also acclaimed for china painting and she pioneered the art in Adelaide, “attending to all stages of the process, including the firing”. She died on February 13, 1938.


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Gable House is significant as an example of middle-class residential style and for it's association with Rosa Fiveash.

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Images of Gable House

  • Gable House at 176-180 Ward Street
Building materials
Brick, Stone, Limestone
Architectural styles
2 Victorian Period (c. 1840–c. 1890)
1857 -
Architecture and design features
gable, quoins
Engineering features
Upper North Adelaide
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Moses Frith
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Dwelling, House
AS2482 classification
16010 - House
Public Access
Private residence
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5347/691 F173121 A91
NTSA file exists
Heritage Status
State Heritage listed
State heritage listing
State Heritage listed
Date of State heritage listing
Local heritage listing
Date of Local heritage listing
NTSA listing
NTSA registered
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
2 Peopling a city
2.2.1 Early Colonial Settlement
4.7 Memorable Development Eras
Rosa Catherine Fiveash, Robert Archibald Fiveash
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • ACA, Assessments, Smith Survey 1880; Australian dictionary of biography, Vol. 8, 1981, pp. 517-8; South Australian Register, 29 January 1872.

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