Built as part of the Federal Capital Commission’s building program for the transfer of public servants to Canberra in 1927, the building now known as Ian Potter House represents an early phase in Canberra’s developing social and cultural history. It was the winning design by Melbourne architects, Anketell and Kingsley Henderson, in a competition held by the Federal Capital Commission to produce ideas for four hostels needed for the growing population of the new Federal Capital. These hostels include Hotel Wellington, the Hotel Ainslie and Brassey House.
The building was originally known as Acton Private Hotel. It was renamed Beauchamp House in recognition of William Lygon, seventh Earl of Beauchamp, Governor of NSW from 1899–1901. The Australian Academy of Science took possession of the site in 1985 and, following refurbishment during 1986–87, gave the building its current name in recognition of philanthropist and Academy Fellow, Sir Ian Potter.
The exterior of the building is a significant example of the Inter-War Georgian Revival style of architecture used in the 1920s. Ian Potter House was entered in the ACT Heritage Register in 1998. The building, including Fellows and Boden Court, the wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) and the grounds are to be conserved and maintained in a manner consistent with its heritage significance.
Ian Potter House accommodates the Australian Academy of Science secretariat and is one of the two culturally significant buildings owned by the Academy. The other building, the Shine Dome was purpose-built during 1958–59 for the Academy.
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