Peter Waite 1834-1922
Peter Waite was a man of great vision and active interest in the economic development of South Australia.
Born in 1834 in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, he emigrated to Terowie, South Australia, in 1859, building a very successful pastoral business.
He was chairman of Elder Smith Company, and held directorships for companies including the Mutooroo, Beltana and Moomba Pastoral companies and British Broken Hill Mining.
By the mid-1870s Peter Waite was wealthy enough to purchase a city estate, Urrbrae, and move his family into the substantial single storey house on the property. In the late 1880s he demolished the original home to build the existing Urrbrae House, which was completed in 1891.
His abiding interest in innovation resulted in Urrbrae House becoming the first private house in South Australia to have electricity and its own domestic refrigeration plant.
When Peter and Matilda Waite died in 1922, they gifted their estate to the University of Adelaide for the development of an agricultural research institute.
Waite's bequest remains one of the largest public benefactions in South Australia's history. The Waite Agricultural Research Institute is now the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide, and is home to world-renowned research and education in agriculture and oenology.