Henry Watson, brother-in-law and business associate of the prominent South Australian colonist John Barton Hack, arrived with his family in South Australia in March 1839, bringing with him a Manning house. Hack had come to the colony in early 1837 when there were few building improvements in Adelaide, but by the time the Watsons arrived he had built a fine two-storey stone house in Hindley Street (a desirable address at that time) and the Watson family moved in.
The family was not thrilled with the thought of occupying the Manning house. In May 1839, Watson wrote “We have not yet decided whether to erect it on the South Terrace or in North Adelaide, in the hopes of selling it and the land ... It is now no longer necessary to bring wooden houses.” In June he recorded that he was in the process of erecting the house on Pennington Terrace and shortly afterwards it was advertised for sale.
With the onset of economic difficulties in the colony in the early 1840s, Watson was unable to sell the property for a good price and his family was forced to live in the house during the winter of 1840. He complained to a relative in England: “Pray advise everyone you have any influence with not to commit the absurdity of bringing a house out with him. They are to [be] bought here cheaper than in London.”
By July the house had been surrounded by a brick-paved veranda, and by late 1840 the Watsons, “having been almost broiled” during the summer, had the building encased in a brick veneer. It was eventually sold to E. Trimmer, and later bought by George Morphett, in 1848. Other private owners lived there before it finally became part of St Mark’s, which has renovated the building.
The house was originally a four-roomed cottage but only the front two rooms retain evidence of the typical Manning panelling. The gabled roof structure and loft are still hidden behind the brick parapet.