St Clair Villa Museum & Archives

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Described as the ‘most beautiful work that has escaped destruction’ in 1924, St Clair Villa in Goulburn was built by James Sinclair (1806 - ?) known variously as a builder, contractor and architect, between 1843 and 1849. St Clair Villa is a unique example of an early provincial villa of the late Georgian period of a classical design. After Sinclair’s death in 1851 the property was sold for private use, over the years becoming home twice to the Mayor and post master of Goulburn, Edward J Ball, becoming a ‘school for young ladies’ in 1883 and from 1884 a private boarding house. Between 1896 and 1900 it reverted to a private residence, owned by the architect Ernest Boissier. It was run as St Clair Boarding House between 1909 and 1919, with the original furniture from 16 rooms being auctioned off in 1922. It was then bought by Horace Oliver Pursehouse in 1922 and remained in his extended family until the late 1960s.

In 1970 to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Governor Macquarie’s visit to Goulburn in 1920, a grant was made by the Premier’s Department of NSW to Goulburn City Council to be used for historical purposes. This coincided with the Goulburn and District Historical Society being instrumental in saving St Clair from demolition and the villa was purchased with the commemorative grant. St Clair Villa opened as an historical house museum and ‘historical exhibition, folk museum and research centre’ in 1977.      

Today St Clair Villa is one of the oldest remaining houses in Goulburn, added to the National Trust of Australia register in 1976 and the Register of the National Estate in 1978. It houses important local archives and museum collections including textiles, domestic items, historic photographs, parish maps, Goulburn newspapers, diaries and journals from early pioneer families from Goulburn and surrounding districts, providing insights into the region’s rich historical past.

Opening times:

St Clair Villa is currently closed due to conservation works.

Archival searches by History Goulburn are available for local history and family history research. Research inquiries can be made at the temporary Research office at 324 Sloane Street, Goulburn.

Subject to availability of volunteers, opening times for research, library and archives are Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm, excluding public holidays.  Research fee may apply. 

Contact Details

For research inquiries please contact History Goulburn by email at or by phone on 0458 028 003, and leave a message.

For St Clair Villa inquiries please contact Council’s Museums Coordinator, Kerry Ross by email at or by phone on 0466 243 188