In 1835 the building of the most impressive home in NSW was started for the then second-most important person of the colony, secretary Alexander Macleay. He had a waterfront property of 54.acres that reached up the hill where the home was built to have magnificent views from the suburb now known as Elizabeth Bay. It took a couple of years to complete the home.
Central to the house is an oval domed ceiling around which the walls and rest of the house was constructed. Below the house, two separate cellars that have the combined same area as the ground floor of the house. The renovation and preservation of the house and its contents are well worth visiting. As expected, the history of the house and those who lived there is interesting. It is a sad tale of an extravagant home built by an owner of falling finances, who lost the home to his son.
Alexander and members of his family were naturalists and the extensive gardens became well known for rare plants. When he brought his family to Australia in 1826, he already had an extensive insect collection which he brought with him.
From the original large property, the land all around the house has been subsequently divided and sold until today, the house is located on Onslow Avenue, Elizabeth Bay surrounded on the other three sides by Onslow place and with virtually no land around the house. All around are apartments and in front, across Onslow Avenue, Arthur McElhone Reserve that preserves some views across the water from Elizabeth Bay House.