Built in approx 1847 for J. W. Cowell, (wealthy hotelier)by the architect John Gill. Gill was one of Melbourne's most prominent early architects. The property was later owned by Archibald Smart, an early Mayor of Kew and under whose ownership the house underwent extensive renovations in the 1870's.
The house is important architecturally as an example of the work of Gill and because it is part of a group of houses which are the oldest in urban Victoria and one of a small number of pre-gold rush buildings in the State. The stucco ornamentation and cast iron verandahs added in the 1870's are representative of the architectural trends of the time.
Historically it is important for its associations with J. W. Cowell and Archibald Smart and as a genteel residence on the banks of the Yarra River.