Bray House

Bray House is an example of the disjointed and sometimes haphazard way many important city residences were constructed over time. In 1837, town acres 285 to 288 were granted to John Wright, and a small wooden house was constructed on the property. In 1850, James Bunce bought the property for £290. By this time the timber house had evidently been replaced or possibly encased, as it was reported to be a five-room brick cottage.

On 29 September 1852, Neville Blyth purchased the property and extended the house significantly. Neville was born in Birmingham in 1828 and arrived with his family to the Colony of South Australia in 1839. Neville, along with his brother Arthur opened an ironmongery business in Hindley Street. The firm was successful and by the late 1850s, the brothers became notable politicians. Neville represented a number of constituencies in the House of Assembly from 1860 until 1878. He became Treasurer for a brief period and Minister of Education 1877-1878. He returned to England in 1878.

The house was sold in 1880 to John Cox Bray, a legal practitioner and politician. In 1871, Bray was elected to the House of Assembly, and became premier of South Australia on 24 June 1881. He held the office until 1884, the longest consecutive term for any South Australian premier up until that time. Bray was later knighted in 1890, and appointed the South Australian Agent-General in England from 1892 until his death in 1894. The Hutt Street frontage of the building that can be seen today was built for Bray. The house became known as ‘Bray House’ because of its well-known owner. 

The house remained in the Bray family until it was acquired by the Adelaide City Council in 1973. The building has recently been restored and is now used as corporate offices.

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