The former coaching inn stands on six hectares in the historic village of Kempton, where its first occupant, ex-convict embezzler-turned-innkeeper William Ellis, is buried in the nearby cemetery.
Designed in the Georgian style, its main facade has five bays. The portico has square and round Tuscan columns, framing the central entrance with four-panel door, fanlight and half sidelights. Two wings, each with attic spaces, enclose a huge flagged courtyard and caretaker's quarters.
Built in 1842 by master stonemason, Andrew Bell for William Henry Ellis, it was originally known as the Green Ponds Hotel and served as an inn, public house and residence until the 1860s. It represented a vote of confidence in growing prosperity of the Green Ponds region. Ellis, an emancipated convict was an enterprising gentleman who started a successful coach service between Hobart & Green Ponds terminating, of course, at his own Inn. This is why the stables and coach house are almost a big as the main house itself.
Ellis continued to operate the Inn, which at some stage appears to have been renamed “The Commercial Inn” and also the Green Ponds Store across the road from the Inn until his death in 1860. During the next decade it was used as a scholastic establishment for young ladies before reverting to private occupancy. The Inn has remained in wonderful condition and probably in private occupancy since the 1880’s. In the past few years the property was up for sale. The last owner was renowned journalist & creative arts festival director, Leo Schofield, who in his seven year ownership restored much of the home to preserve original features such as the sandstone open fireplaces & cedar joinery.
A description of the building at the time of its sale was as follows – “The double storey sandstone masterpiece is in the finest condition of its long and colourful life ... a life that started in 1842 as a coach staging post for travellers on the road between Hobart and Launceston. The 22-room mansion has a hipped roof, 12-paned double hung windows, string course moulded cornice and a projecting central bay with lower storey classical columns over the entrance. And what a grand entrance it is.
"Almost exclusive use of Australian cedar gives Dysart House a luxurious feel of homely elegance, combined with the grandeur of the period. The dining room, sitting room, library, office and second floor living room, though spacious, magically retain a fine sense of intimate quality living. The ground floor kitchen is large and well equipped adjoining a store room with a large wine cellar sited below the kitchen.
"The bedrooms have beautiful cedar window furnishings with generous en suites and in addition to the vibrant throbbing nucleus of the house, presently used as the easily managed principal living areas, there are two wings, one of which has two large bedrooms, the other boasts a games room plus two smaller bedrooms.
"The outbuildings contain a laundry and a smart self-contained caretaker’s cottage grouped around a large courtyard. Standing apart is another large fine heritage building containing the old coach house, now used as a four car garage, stables with horse boxes and a large workshop area. The property stands on 5.811 hectares (14.35 acres) divided into two large fields and two smaller paddocks. The one acre garden is stocked with young fruit trees."
Not surprisingly it is recognized as one of the finest coaching inns on the old Midlands Highway and is now in the hands of new owners who intend to continue with the preservation program of the property.