Several well-known South Australians have called this place home since it was built in 1883. The first was Arthur Waterhouse, son of the successful financier Thomas G. Waterhouse. The younger Waterhouse was a successful promoter of commercial enterprises.
Waterhouse sold the property to the Simms family in 1888. Alfred Simms, a prominent brewer, was involved in founding the South Australian Brewing Company Ltd. Mary Harriet Archer Thomas, whose family helped establish the newspaper, the South Australian Register, also owned it for a time.
In 1955 the state government bought the home. It was taken over by St Mark’s College, a residential college of the University of Adelaide, in 1970. The name Hawker House commemorates the generosity of the Hawker family to St Mark’s College.