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.