The Iron House fronting 399 Coventry Street, South Melbourne and still located on the original site was imported and erected in 1853 for local speculator Robert Patterson. The portable iron structure of utilitarian design and unknown manufacture is constructed of a tee and angle section wrought iron frame clad with five inch pitch corrugated sheet, which is partitioned and lined internally with horizontal boards to form an attic cottage of six rooms.
Portable iron structures were a significant British manufacture of the period 1840-60 and the South Melbourne house, originally one of a large number imported to Victoria, is of international importance as one of very few surviving prefabricated iron cottages in the world.
The house is a fine intact example of a building type which proliferated in the gold rush era of the burgeoning Colony of Victoria and is of paramount technological rather than stylistic importance. The portable iron house at 399 Coventry Street, South Melbourne, survives essentially intact, and is being systematically and meticulously restored by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) as a museum exhibit. Of world significance.