Parts were originally known as Myrtle Bank, Urrbrae Park, and the area also included the properties "Birksgate", "Claremont" and "Alverstock".
Today's suburb was named by Robert MacGeorge after his Scottish home town Urr, and the word Brae (meaning the side of a hill). The Urrbrae Wetlands are located here.
Built in 1891, Urrbrae House was the home of Peter Waite.
Following his death in 1922, the house was bequeathed to the University of Adelaide and became the Agriculture Institute for Research and Teaching.
Urrbrae House was the first home in Adelaide to have electricity. It also features a lower level below ground for use during the hot summer months, a beautiful Hall, and a Minstrel's Gallery.
Urrbrae House is part of the Urrbrae House Historic Precinct and Waite Campus (University of Adelaide).
To learn more about Urrbrae House, please click here.
Urrbrae House Historic Precinct and Waite Campus
The Historic Precinct includes Urrbrae House,Coach House and Stables and Waite Arboretum (sanctuary) Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide.
Urrbrae, was named after Urr in Scotland by Robert F Macgeorge. He arrived in the Colony in 1839 and within 12 months had moved to the 134 acre section; (now occupied by the Waite Agriculture Research Institute).
Of the five "mansions" listed in the Council's first assessment, two were located in the present-day suburb of Urrbrae. The area previously known as Glen Osmond.
"Birksgate" was originally taken up by Edward Frome, Surveyor-General, after whom Lake Frome and Frome Road, Adelaide are named. Arthur Hardy, who was born in Birksgate, Yorkshire, England, purchased the property in 1845 and by 1851 had built his house. Within the decade Arthur Hardy had terraced the hill-sides and planted most of his property with vines. In 1864 Thomas Elder acquired the property and it remained in his family passing to the Barr-Smith branch until demolition and subdivision in the 1970s.
The second "mansion" was of oriental design and named "The Glen" by Joseph B Montefiore who had purchased 16 acres from Arthur Hardy in 1847. A retired Indian Judge occupied the house for several years before it passed to the Boothby family until being sold to the Passionist Catholic order in 1896. Alterations and additions took place and its now the monastery of St Paul's Retreat. In 1895 some "rare and choice imported trees and plants could still be found in the grounds".
Alfred Hardy, brother to Arthur purchased property south of his brother's naming it "Hartly Bank". In the mid 1860s Danial Cudmore, a pastoralist purchased it and renamed it "Claremont". He also added part of "Alverstoke" which adjoined to the west of "Claremont".
The entrance to "Claremont" was along present-day Waite Road which in 1897 Mrs Claremont asked "if the road west of Sections 893-4 has any name and if not, would the council name it Claremont Road and further would the council put a suitable board?" Council accepted the suggestion but "cannot undertake to have board with name fixed, but had no objections to Mr Cudmore doing so, provided it is done in a satisfactory manner". (Council Minutes Nov. 1897).
"Urrbrae" was leased to Edward Stirling for twenty years before being bought by Thomas Elder of "Birksgate" (and that famous stock and station agency Elder, Stirling & Co, Elders Smith & Co, Elders, Goldsborough and Mort, and in recent times Elders IXL). Within two years, 1877 he had transferred it to one of his best station managers, Peter Waite, (born at Pitcairn) a fellow Scot who became owner of the property in 1882. Just on a hundred years ago Peter Waite built a new homestead on "Urrbrae" which is celebrating it's centenary this year with a programme of activity and promotion of Waite Agriculture Research Institute.
Negotiations and planning for the future of his estate began in 1913 when he wrote to the Premier and Chancellor of Adelaide University. His wish were for agriculture and kindred studies to be pursued on the eastern half and a public park developed on the western side, under the control of the university. Urrbrae High School land was bought on his recommendation and in 1915 "Claremont" estate was added. Peter Waite died in 1922. However, his children continued to add to the bequest for another 30 years making it one of the largest public benefactions by a SA colonist. Besides the rural atmosphere to watch crops colouring with the seasons and sheep peacefully grazing, the community has also inherited a living tree museum in the form of the arboretum established in 1928.
Bounded by Cross, Fullarton, Waite Roads and the hill-tops in the east, only about a quarter of the suburb has been built upon in the north-east corner. The first subdivision of 12 allotments on the north-west corner of Cross and Waite Roads took place in 1913 and the rest of Grandview Avenue in 1925. Part of Glenwood and Oulnina Avenues were offered in 1928. Not until after World War II in the 1950s, were over 60 allotments made available either side of Greenwood Grove and Pitcairn Avenues.
The demolition of "Birksgate" in 1971 considered by the National Trust as a "stately Home" shocked conservative Adelaide, that nothing was immune from the developers, nothing was sacred to the demolition contractors after all. However, the resulting subdivision of underground services, individually designed houses stepped into the hillsides and expanses of lawns and gardens running to the kerbsides without the interruption of fences, gives a tranquil impression.
In 1988, 60 years after the proposal of Springfield being a closed suburb, the same concept was successfully applied to the newest subdivision of "Mira Monte". This housing estate is very unique from an engineering view, being on the site of an old filled in quarry. Drilled holes filled with boulders and gravel and compacted across the area, formed a solid foundation for the erection of 72 federation style houses. The street names of this town-house area with its own community facilities proudly acknowledges some of the pioneers of the area like, surveyor Thomas Gill, and Glen Osmond's reputedly first settler, Edwin Olliver.