Struan House Tour Notes

(Numbers in brackets refer to room numbers on plan below)

The House

  • On west side of Naracoorte/Penola Road 17km south of Naracoorte 33km from Penola.
  • Construction began in 1873, completed in 1875. Early in 1876 a ball was held for 150 people to celebrate the opening.
  • The 40 rooms are built of locally quarried limestone with sandstone dressing.
  • The architect was WT Gore formerly of Naracoorte and it was built by Henry Smith and Thomas Agar of Naracoorte using local tradesmen.
  • The cost of the house was £10,000 ($20,000) when built between 1873 and 1875 (excluding marble fireplaces and painting).
  • The main building is 28.65m long and 18.5m wide with a total area 685.6 square metres.
  • The tower height is 19.8m.
  • In the 1970’s the whole interior of the house was painted cream.
  • Ten to fifteen years ago the State Government restored three main rooms (current conference room, lunch room and entrance) to resemble there original appearance.  Each of the rooms has one section of paint which is original:
    • Conference room western wall top left hand side.
    • Front entrance facing west top of arch left had side and right hand side pillar.
    • Lunch room eastern wall top right hand side.
  • In 2008 the house was again renovated at a cost of $2 million with structural strengthening of the upper floor and tower plus general upgrades including disabled access, airconditioning and stripping of some of the paint and restoring to the original decorative appearance.

Current Conference Room

  • This room was originally the main drawing room.
  • 10.66m long by 7.31m wide with a ceiling height of 4.87m (16 feet).
  • Centre plaster pieces were all made at Struan.
  • The large number of vents was to prevent the oil lamps from staining the ceiling.
  • The fireplace is made of pure white Italian marble and won first prize at the Melbourne Expo Exhibition Show of 1867 and supplied by Hurtley and Parker of Melbourne.  Note the nest, eggs and lizard and Australian native plants sculpted in the fire place.
  • Cost of the fireplaces was £300 ($600).
  • Under the carpet is a polished wood floor for ballroom dancing.

Foyer (2/3)

  • Original floor - the floor is imperfect, it was a superstition that a perfect floor would bring bad luck, so there were five faults (tile in an incorrect position) put into the floor – can you find them?  - I can only find two, facing west one near the left hand pillar, another under the stairs. Marble tiles on the outside were from Casterton.
  • The walls are all painted – this was done to save on costs, the wall was firstly painted, sponged, veins were roll painted with a very fine brush (to resemble marble) and then paint splattered over top. The black lines were also painted.  It was too expensive to import marble tiles. 
  • The original marble tiles on the outside were from Casterton.
  • Paintings of the original owners:
    • John Robertson lived in the house for four years.
    • Then Alex Robertson who was a bachelor took over running of the house.  

Main Admin Office (1)

  • Ladies formal lounge.

Mail Room

  • Old gun room / equipment room.

Knitting Room (Current photocopy room) (7/8)

  • No outside door.


  • The stairs are free standing with every seventh step made of steel.

Executive Passage (to west) (5)

  • All rooms (9,10,11) were bedrooms except Room 12 which was the library.
  • All rooms had fire places and 16 feet ceilings.

Dining Room (26)

  • The dining room was painted to look like wall paper. 
  • Italian marble fire place.
  • Original piece of furniture (side board), no nails, nuts or bolts holding it together, it fits together like a jigsaw puzzle.  It was shipped in pieces and assembled at Struan. It is the only remaining original piece of furniture. 
  • Most of the original furniture was sold at auction; Yallam House near Penola has much of it.
  • Last photo on the side board is a photo of Struan in Scotland.

Drawing Room Upstairs (Current library) (64)

  • 9.14m long by 7.3m wide and 4.2m high (14 feet as with other upstairs ceilings).
  • This was also the ballroom so the ladies could “parade” down the stair case.
  • Tapestries were hung from the hooks.
  • Note the marble fireplace.

Servery Room (Current coffee room) (27)

  • Separated cooks from the serving staff.

Kitchen (Current kitchen) (22)

  • The servery separated the cooks from the serving staff.
  • Original kitchen, servery wasn’t there originally.  Kitchen was separate from house, for fire prevention.
  • Door off kitchen was scullery maid’s bedroom.

Toilet Block (19/20)

  • This was the dairy storage and meat-house.

Overseers Rooms

  • Was paid £75 per annum ($1.44 per week).
  • Scullery maid 5 cents and cook 18 cents/week.

Servant quarters (67 to 70)

  • Servants Dining Room (Dark Room).
  • Bedroom –
  • Servant’s Sitting Room.
  • 13 servants to tend the 40 rooms.
  • The upstairs and downstairs rooms were run separately.

Main Bedroom (63 & 65)

  • Rooms 63 and 65 were one room.
  • Dressing room (now computer room) off main bedroom.
  • Room 61 was a bathroom (only cold water).
  • Room 60 a walk-in wardrobe.


  • Most rooms bedrooms.
  • One room library.
  • All had 16 feet ceilings.
  • Small room under the tower stairs was a bathroom which did not have hot water.
  • Behind main stairs (men’s toilet) was a bedroom (52).


Struan House - Ground Floor

Floor Plan for Struan House - Ground Floor

Struan House - First Floor

Floor Plan for Struan House - First Floor


Struan House - Ground Floor (Old Residence)

Floor Plan for Struan House - Ground Floor (Old Residence)


Room Number Original Use Current Use Comment
1 Ladies Formal Lounge Office Admin Ladies drawing room
2/3 Entrance Hall Entry Foyer
4 Passages
5 Passages
Conference Main Drawing Room Conference Room
7/8 Knitting Room Photocopying No door
9 Bedroom Office 9/10 originally one room
10 Bedroom Office
11 Bedroom Office
12 Library Office
15 Staff Stairs Stairs Perishables under stairs
20 Male Toilets
22 Kitchen Kitchen Kitchen separate (fire)
26 Dining Room Lunch Room
27 Servery Tea Room
52 Bedroom Toilets Bathroom for boys home
59 Bathroom
61 Bathroom
62 2nd Floor Men's smoking and cards
62 Tower Tower
63 Main Bedroom Was one room with 65 
64 Drawing/Ballroom Library
65 Main Bedroom Was one room with 63
67 Servant's Quarters
68 Servant's Quarters
69 Servant's Quarters
70 Servant's Quarters
Page Last Reviewed: 20 Nov 2017
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