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Statement from the History Trust of South Australia regarding Ayers House

Everyone agrees that Ayers House is an irreplaceable example of a gracious 19th-century North Terrace home – and, what is more, the home of one of the then-young colonys leading citizens and political leaders, Sir Henry Ayers. Everyone agrees that it must have an enduring future. That is why the government is prepared to spend $6.6 million to ensure its continued existence into and beyond the 21st century.

Under the stewardship of The History Trust of South Australia, Ayers House will continue to be a recognisable and respected historic building. It will continue to be accessible to the public.

It will be a centre for historical excellence and learning.

It will also provide a physical focus for the many activities of The History Trust – including accommodating the Trust’s small central team in part of the building.

The History Trust is itself as unique as Ayers House. It is the nation’s only public agency charged with promoting and preserving our fascinating history – South Australia’s history. Ayers House will enhance The History Trust’s ability to fulfil its charter in new ways.

It will be home to a range of visitor experiences and advice for individual citizens and community groups.

It will be a place for school-age and tertiary students to visit and link to the major history and schools program of The History Trust. 

It will be a place for everyone to learn more about Sir Henry Ayers and the significant contribution he made as seven-time Premier towards the modern democracy we now enjoy.  

It will be a place for regular public history talks and launches – and not only those that are under The History Trust banner.

Ayers House will also be available for meetings that support the many hundreds of history groups and museums that The History Trust serves through the State History Network. Among these groups and museums are many that are affiliated with the National Trust of South Australia. They, like others, have benefitted across the years from government-funded grant programs administered by, and expert curatorial advice offered through, The History Trust.

As well, Ayers House will be the flagship hub for the annual and hugely popular SA History Festival which boasts well over 600 events every May and which stretches across most towns in SA and many metropolitan communities and organisations.

It will regularly showcase rarely-seen items from the State History Collection, as well as providing a sympathetic setting in which to introduce new acquisitions for public viewing.

At Ayers House, The History Trust will be able to provide snapshots of the historical projects undertaken throughout the state that are supported by the extensive grants program it administers. 

The History Trust looks forward to joining the SA Museum, State Library, Art Gallery and Adelaide Botanic Garden, Lot 14 agencies and the forthcoming Aboriginal Arts and Culture Centre, on North Terrace. It welcomes the opportunity to continue to work in new ways with these institutions to encourage all South Australians and visitors to enjoy the marvellous cultural and scientific treasures that North Terrace offers.

As The History Trust of South Australia has always done, we will welcome all who have an interest in our history. There are no membership privileges. The History Trust serves all South Australians. That is its public charter and a source of great pride to those of us who represent it.

Read Premier Don Dunstan’s speech at the opening of Ayers House on 30 June 1973, held in the Dunstan Collection, Special Collections, Flinders University Library.

Ayers House, Home of Sir Henry Ayers, c. 1860.
Image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B8091, http://images.slsa.sa.gov.au/mpcimg/08250/B8091.htm, Public Domain

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