In about 1881, two small dwellings on this plot were demolished to make way for a more imposing residence. The rateable annual value increased from £22 in November 1880 to £100 a year later, and to £175 in 1882, indicating the house was completed.
Thomas Greaves Waterhouse, who commissioned the building, was a successful businessman who owned the Black Bull Hotel (the Princes Berkely) in Hindley Street.
The design of the house is attributed to the architect William McMinn. During the likely construction period, no other large residences with an annual assessed value of more than £90 were built on North Terrace. McMinn placed tender notices for “building a residence on North Terrace” in the South Australian Register during that time, so it seems probable he did design the house.
Several notable South Australians have occupied the house. Sir William Milne (1822-95) took out a three-year lease on the property. Milne was a wine and spirit merchant, politician, director and chairman of the Wallaroo and Moonta Mining and Smelting Co., and a trustee of the Savings Bank. He was appointed a knight of the realm in 1876.
In 1906, Adelaide architect Walter Hervey Bagot bought the residence and it remained within the Bagot family until 1926. Bagot was a prominent early 20th century Adelaide architect. Two of his buildings, Bonython Hall and the Barr Smith Library at the University of Adelaide on the other side of North Terrace, reflect his preference for classical and traditional design.
The building also served as professional rooms for several medical practitioners, including Dr J.A.G. Hamilton, Dr C.V. Wells and the well-known Chinese specialist Dr Lum Yow. It was also a guesthouse between 1927 and the 1940s.
In 1953, the Chamber of Manufactures Insurance Limited bought and extensively remodelled the building to house the Chamil Surgical and Physiotherapy Clinic for treatment of injured workmen employed by policy-holders of the company. It was later used once more as a doctor’s professional rooms until the present owners purchased the property and restored it as a private home.
The building is notable for its high-quality detailing on both the North Terrace and western elevations. It features well-finished surrounds to openings and a variety of stucco ornamentation, including foliated capitals and spandrel decoration. The design has been marred by the removal of a balcony, but the imposing mansard roof with its slate cladding, and the widows walk and parapet, are intact. Morgan and Gilbert commented in Early Adelaide architecture, that the design “although elaborate is well scaled to so small a house”.