Sir Henry Parkes "The Father of Federation" stood on the site that would become The National Trust's first museum where in October, 1889 he delivered a speech that in the words of Sir Robert Garran; "turned a vague ideal into a practical working program for Federation".
The property not only stands to commemorate the memory of one of Australia's great statesmen but to provide a centre of interest to perpetuate the meaning and purpose of Federation. The property itself was founded as a working man's institute in the 1870s. Its lifetime and associated events have earned it the title as 'birthplace of the nation'. Architecturally the School of Arts is a prominent building reflecting the society and era, comprising of many styles ranging from its gothic outline to the Edwardian addition of 1913.