This house is often thought of as the earliest documented house in Fitzroy. The central section was constructed in 1850 for John McPherson who owned and occupied the house until 1876. The House was originally known as Helena House (and later as Osborne House). The original house was designed by Charles Laing (Miles Lewis, Gertrude St Walk, April 2013).
In 1979 however it was identified that “Bishop Goold’s house (part of the Convent of Mercy, Nicholson Street…) was erected a few months earlier than Osborne House” (South Fitzroy Conservation Study 1979, p.11-12).
Its central section erected in 1850 by builder William Pelling for wealthy squatter John MacPherson, was acquired in 1887 by Melbourne merchant and speculator George Nipper who converted this private residence to a boarding house (operated for 93 years) via the construction of two flanking three storey wings with encircling iron verandas. The additions of this establishment (named Osborne House in the Jubilee Year of Victoria’s reign) are in the conservative Classical mode.
In 1888 the side wings were added, probably to the design of Charles Webb, by the new owner George Nipper. From this date it was used as a boarding house with two attached shops.