Stroud House does not lie within the scope of the Stroud Heritage Conservation Trust, but as the grandest domestic building left by the AACo it is a striking element of the Stroud townscape.
Stroud House was the first substantial house built in Stroud. Robert Dawson, the first commissioner of the Australian Agricultural Company, ordered some construction work soon after he chose the site of the township in 1826. When Sir Edward Parry succeeded Dawson he disparaged the house as "a wretched habitation". He upgraded it in 1832 so that he could live there with his wife and family while managing pastoral business inland and supervising construction of St John’s Church in 1833.
He commissioned Thomas Laman, builder of St John’s, to redesign the house, using convict builders who were secured in cellars below. Here the petite bricks they made and the herringbone patterns are clearly visible. They rendered bricks to look like stone blocks and cut slates for the roof.
An upgrade was ordered in 1839 by a later commissioner, Admiral Phillip Parker King (explorer, navigator and son of Philip Gidley King, who sailed with the First Fleet as second lieutenant of HMS Sirius and became third Governor of NSW 1800-1806). The house served as inland base for P.P.King himself and home for his son Philip Gidley King (named after his grandfather) who was Superintendent of Flocks. P.G.King lived there with his wife Elizabeth and large family for ten years. The artist Conrad Martens visited him there. In 1833 and 1834 they had been shipmates with Charles Darwin on the momentous South American voyage of HMS Beagle.
The changes brought about the house’s present form, with 14ft ceilings, security shutters, beautifully crafted red cedar joinery, and a remodelled façade with portico. Stroud House became west facing, the original easterly orientation having been chosen before the town was surveyed or had a main street.
As AAco’s focus shifted inland away from the Port Stephens district. Stroud House became an office of the Bank of Australasia, the bank renting it from AAco from 1882, then buying it in 1905. After the 1929 depression a team of doctors took it over as a surgery until after World War II, when the house passed into private hands.
Flourishing today as one of the world's biggest beef producers, with land holdings across Queensland and the Northern Territory, AAco maintains pride in its pioneering achievements. It is a founding donor to the Stroud Heritage Conservation Trust.