They were known as Mills Buildings, named after George Mills, who had four houses built here in 1865. In the 1869 assessment they were valued at £45 for each of the three smaller houses, and £84 for the residence Mills occupied to the west.
Such small-scale residential development was quite typical, as was the means by which Mills made enough money to be able to build. In common with many other colonists, he progressed from a single trade to an occupation that grew as settlement expanded.
Mills arrived in South Australia in about 1840, beginning as a shoemaker in Hindley Street. He brought horses from Tasmania and let them out for work on the Port Road, then became a carrier between the city and the port. In 1856 when the city to port railway was opened, he became a partner with H. Hill in the firm J.R. Fuller and Co, managing all of the goods traffic on the line.
Mills managed the stables at Adelaide, Gawler and Kapunda as the railways were extended. From 1871 to 1882, he was a member of the coaching and carrying firm of John Hill and Co. After he died in 1888, his wife Annie continued to live at their home on North Terrace until about 1908
The dwelling next door to Mills’ house was used as a boarding house by J. Barwick and then by Arthur and Louisa Morris. By 1885 they had expanded to include the next house and took in boarders until 1903. The Morris family transformed their business into the Victoria Coffee Palace, which lasted until about 1914. At that time a coffee palace was primarily a form of inexpensive unlicensed accommodation, somewhere between a boarding house and a hotel, so it was an easy transition.
George Mills’ former house is a sizeable residence for this area. The interiors of the houses to the east have been substantially changed for use as a restaurant.