Henry and Frank Rymill bought Town Acre 220 in two transaction, in 1859 and 1861. By March 1860 a cottage for the Messrs Rymill had been designed by G.S. Kingston; nothing of this appears to remain except the boundary walls. Henry bought Frank’s share and later had the cottage replaced by the present building (once known as The Firs), which was designed by John Haslam and built by William Rogers.
The South Australian Register of December 10, 1884, described the new family residence as “one of the best houses in the City, both from its admirably arranged plan and the effective character of the whole four elevations, which are carried out in brown stone with Sydney stone and cement dressings in the Queen Anne style”.
The windows were fitted with sliding shutters and the top sashes were stained glass. Over the main entrance, there is stained glass representing the four seasons of the year. The scientific and hygienic interests of the period were displayed in the sanitary and plumbing arrangements. Much consideration was also given to the latest ideas in ventilation.
Henry Rymill died in 1927 but the family owned the house until 1950. It was then acquired as a training centre by the Post Master General and used as that until 1982.
Although the grounds are in a poor state and the building has suffered from subsidence, it is a very prominent part of East Terrace and one of the most gracious of the residences that once characterised the south-east corner of the city. These qualities are enhanced by its generous siting on land that exceeds one town acre.
The detailing of both the house and coach house is consistent and of a high order. The masonry is of squared, random coursed sandstone with stuccoed dressings. The internal detailing of the house includes elaborate elements such as chimney-pieces, stair hall and stained-glass. The architectural impact of the unusually prominent four main frontages have little or no counterpart in the city.