Originally called “Clermont House”, it was constructed in 1861 on a 9 hectare grant to Henry Bray (third Mayor of Concord [1890-1891] and younger brother of Alfred Bray, first Mayor of Concord). When Henry died at “Clermont” in 1896, according to an obituary, “the business places of Burwood were draped in black”.
John Bibb, architect, designed the house in a mid-Victorian style with Georgian influences. Clermont was constructed of stucco brick. A curved bay window was a feature of one side. Its iron roof was bellcast and supported on iron columns. (“Bellcast” refers to a roof that tends to flatten out in changing to a lower pitch near the eaves.)
A transom covered the main front door. A second storey was added to the original structure in 1880 but the ground floor veranda along the front and sides of the original building was retained. The hipped roof was of slate and moulded tops covered the large chimneys. Internally the house was designed to permit extensive entertaining as befitted Henry Bray’s status as a merchant and well-known community figure.
Subdivision of the estate began in 1917 and in 1918 the house and existing grounds were donated by the then owner, F.K. Olliver, to the Society for Providing Houses for Neglected Children. At this time the name was changed from Clermont to Ardill House to honour the founder of the society, George Edward Ardill, who established the charity in 1887 to provide refuge for neglected, homeless and threatened children.
In 1976 the Australian Heritage Commission added Ardill House to the Register of the National Estate. It has also been classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW).
The stables were demolished in 1949 to make way for the new toilet block built in 1952 and three new rooms – a pantry, playroom and dining room – were added to the original home in 1965, the basic structure of the mid-Victorian building remains intact and much of the internal detail still exists.
For many years it was also known as “Our Children’s Home”, but with government changes in child care it closed in approximately 1981. It re-opened in 1983 for day child care in various forms.