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The first substantial Government House was built in 1817 in Macquarie Street on an area now occupied by Franklin Square, Elizabeth Street and the Town Hall. However this building proved to be inadequate and Governor Arthur decided that it needed to be replaced by a house on the present site at Pavilion Point. After several delays construction of the present Government House commenced in 1855. Some of the sandstone used in construction was excavated from quarries at the site, which are now ornamental pools. Local timbers were used for the joinery and Welsh slate for the roofs. Furnishings were ordered from Trollope and Sons, London.
The main of the construction was completed in 1857 and on the 2 January 1858 Sir Henry Fox Young became the first Governor to take up residence. Internal finishing was completed over the following two years.
Apart from the conservatory, which was rebuilt in accordance with the original uncompleted plan in 1991, the structure of Government House remains as it was when it was first occupied.
Tasmania's Government House is today regarded as one of the best Vice-Regal residences in the Commonwealth. Designed by colonial architect William Porden Kay, it is a fine example of an early Victorian country house in neo-Gothic style and is one of the largest of its type in Australia. The scale, detail and finish of the entrance hall, grand corridor and state rooms together with their furniture are unequalled in Australia. Outstanding exterior features of the house include exceptional stonework, individually carved sandstone chimney pots and bas-relief sculptures.