W.H. Gray was a prominent land speculator who bought land in the new colony at the first land sale in London on 15 July 1835. His first blocks of land were near Glenelg. By 1841 he had purchased 600 acres near West Beach and twelve town acres between Currie Street and North Terrace where almost immediately he had cottages built. Many of the early dwellings constructed on his city land for rent were considered to be in poor condition by the time of his death and some were condemned by the Local Board of Health.
In his will Gray specified that his estate would operate until the death of his youngest son, Albert, who died in 1964 at the age of ninety-six years. The estate was managed by Moulden, Gray and Stirling after W.H. Gray's death on September 1896. Between 1897 and 1901 sixty- one cottages were pulled down and thirty five dwellings were built. The trustees decided to demolish many of the earlier structures and replace them with new rental properties. Rent from newly erected dwellings and shops was double that from the cottages they had replaced. The four two storey terrace houses in Carrington Street were constructed in this period of 1897-1901. The architects were English and Soward.
The terrace houses were rented out to lower middle-class people whose occupations, listed in the South Australian Directory from 1901 to 1950, included a surveyor, accountant, musician, nurse, wood turner and boarding-house keeper. Gradually the types of occupants changed as the solid and attractive terrace houses fell into decline and became a cheap boarding-house.
From 1973 the South Australian Housing Trust began buying established houses in the city and inner suburbs which were renovated and rented to low income families and welfare organisations.
The Carrington Street terrace houses were bought and renovated as part of the 'Special Rental' scheme which was the first of its kind among Australian housing authorities. The trust was formed in 1936 as Australia's first public housing authority and had traditionally provided new worker housing for rental and purchase in new suburbs and country towns.
From the early 1970s the Housing Trust became involved willingly in a campaign to attract the population back into the city square mile. The premier, Don Dunstan, adopted Housing Trust proposals to buy and renovate old houses and increase the range of tenants it housed to include 'doss house' tenants who needed central city accommodation. These terrace houses were bought for that purpose.
The architecture of the terrace reveals a lightness of detail which contrasts with earlier bluestone terraces. The limestone rubble construction has notable brick detailing. Although the form and massing are standard, the terrace gains distinction from its bold design of the east and west gables, the clustered chimneys, and the unusual design of the cast-iron panel and bar balustrading to the balcony. Surrounds to openings with segmentally arched heads are finished with well profiled bricks, the porch areas being finished with encaustic tiles. The integrity of the terrace is high, with minimal external alteration. The northern side of Carrington Street is dominated by two storey developments such as this terrace, the nearby terrace on the Pulteney Street corner, the Earl of Aberdeen Hotel and the recently refurbished Albert Terrace which all contribute to the character of Hurtle Square.