The land on which the house is situated was originally cleared by Chinese settlers in 1876 who supplied the early township of Cairns with fruit and vegetables.
In 1886 the pioneer botanist, Eugene Fitzalan, took the lease on the land, including Whitfield House, from the City Council. He turned the land into a thriving commercial business as well as a Botanic Garden. In 1897 the lease reverted back to Council and the present Botanic Gardens dates from that time.
The present house was built in 1925. During the Second World War it was seconded by the Australian Government for the U.S. 411 Base Workshop Battalion. Communication duties were conducted in the privacy of the house and garden. Lines were installed to all the anti-aircraft positions in the surrounding hills and ridges.
Following the war, Whitfield House reverted to being a family home until the mid 1990’s when it became a licensed function centre.
In January 2005 Whitfield House was purchased by Henry and Joy Glennie. They have completely gutted the original cottage, leaving all the magnificent timber floors and high ceilings. They have created a Federation-style mansion with function rooms, heated swimming pool and spectacular garden.