Unlike in the eastern States, most of the 19th century gentry of South Australia chose to build their mansions close to the city rather than on rural estates. Some of these mansions represent the vast fortunes that could be built in the early days of the South Australian colony.
The mansion on the right was built by Charles Rasp. Mr Rasp moved from Stuttgart in Germany to Australia (for his health) in 1869. He worked as a boundary rider at a sheep station in western New South Wales. One day, while riding, he was struck by the appearance of a so‑called “broken hill” and returned to stake out a claim in 1883. Rather than the hoped-for tin, the “broken hill” turned out to be full of silver.
Within five years of staking his claim, Rasp was rich, and moved to Adelaide to build his mansion, which you can see on the right. The syndicate he formed became BHP, now one of the largest mining companies in the world.
The distinctive red turreted mansion to the left was built in 1898 for Fredrick George Scarfe, former director of the Harris Scarfe department store. In 1905 Fredrick Scarfe, who was unsatisfied with the aesthetics of his drive to work, donated 25 pounds to the council for the planting of elm trees along Medindie Road.
Two thousand local school children were employed to the task, and were rewarded with half a day off school and sweets handed out by Mr Scarfe, for their labours. Today, none of those elm trees remain, although there are many English elm trees in other parts of the Park Lands.
Legend has it that in the 1920s, a young lady tragically died in Mr Scarfe's house. She supposedly continues to haunt the house to this day.