Cummins House was built in 1842 for Sir John Morphett and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Adelaide’s first Residential Commissioner, James Hurtle Fisher. The house originally stood on 132 acres of working farmland on which orchards, vines and olive groves and a variety of local and imported trees were tended. The property also farmed sheep and held a well-known horse stud.
Today the house and grounds are lovingly preserved to give visitors a strong sense of the history and lives of one of Adelaide’s founding families. The grounds of Cummins House are established as one of Adelaide’s premier locations for garden wedding ceremonies and receptions, high teas, family functions, corporate seminars and cocktail parties. The house is heritage listed and under the guardianship of the City of West Torrens.
Designed by George Kingston, the house began as a five roomed red brick cottage and grew to include its arched entrance porch and grand circular drawing room. The architecture of Cummins reflects the master/servant culture of its day. The servants’ hall, scullery, kitchen and quarters were built around an open courtyard with access to the cellar, stone dairy, laundry and ironing room. Later additions to the house to accommodate catering and function facilities do not detract from the sense of life in the Victorian period.
Many pieces of furniture and antiques were donated by descendants of the Morphett family, while some have remained in the family home from the time they were used by Sir John and Lady Elizabeth Morphett. One of these is the gold brocade ottoman in the grand drawing room. The ottoman, large enough to seat several of Sir John’s daughters, was a place to relax and spend family time. These days the refurbished ottoman is a wonderful place for a bride and groom to be photographed.
A centrepiece of the drawing room is an original rosewood Collard grand piano, one of only five remaining in Australia. It was brought out from England by Lady Elizabeth Morphett’s father, James Hurtle Fisher, for his daughter in 1855. It stands in the same spot that it was originally placed.