Heronswood’s first owner, Professor William Edward Hearn (1826-1888), originally purchased the magnificent site on the slope of Arthur's Seat in 1860.
A four-roomed cottage existed on the land, believed to be the drop slab cottage that remains today. Built from rough, hand-hewn timber slabs dropped diagonally into the grooves of undressed eucalypt poles, and with a bell-shaped roof of wooden shingles, the cottage was the Hearn’s first residence until the large stone house of Heronswood was built in 1871.
The cottage was restored between 2013 and 2016 with rough-sawn Australian hardwood to replicate the original building materials. Heronswood received a Heritage Award for the restoration work from Mornington Peninsula Shire in 2015.
From 1998 to 2017, the drop slab cottage was the home of The Diggers Club retail nursery and our Seed Room prior to that. In late 2017 it was sensitively remodelled by The Diggers Foundation to become Gallery Heronswood, an informative display space to showcase the life cycle of plants, pollination and seeds.