Karragaroo is noted for its connections to two early Ipswich families – the Foote and Whitehead families.
First owners, the recently married Ambrose and Ada Maria Foote, moved into Karragaroo in 1884. Newly constructed in brick and timber, Karragaroo featured some 20 rooms, verandahs with cast iron balustrading and corbelled chimneys. Open spaces then surrounded the house and its extensive garden. Water came from a well and the lighting was gas powered. At Karragaroo, the couple raised and educated their six boys.
Ambrose Foote had followed the footsteps of his father, John Clarke Foote, becoming in 1891 a partner in the Ipswich mercantile firm of Cribb and Foote. There he controlled the grocery department. Their eldest son, Wilfred Arnold Foote, again followed tradition and remained with the family firm. Of the others, three trained as dentists and two as doctors. Two served in the First World War and one became a Rhodes scholar.
Following the death of Ambrose Foote in October 1920, the Karragaroo estate was subdivided for sale. Plans dated 1921 show the main house surrounded by 27 house allotments.
Family friend Francis Arnold Whitehead, the Ipswich photographer who had served as the first treasurer of the Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and Industry, next purchased Karragaroo. The families also were connected because Minnie Whitehead had married Lieutenant Herbert Douglas Foote, second son of Ambrose Foote, in June of 1919.
Born in Ipswich in 1863, Francis Whitehead had entered the developing field of commercial photography following studies at Ipswich Grammar School. By 1901, he was successful enough to commission Ipswich architect George Brockwell Gill to design a new, two-storey premises for his photography business in Brisbane Street. The Whitehead family occupied Karragaroo for over two decades. During these years they converted the original horse stable to a garage and tennis practice room. The Whitehead family’s connection with Karagaroo was lost after the death of Francis Whitehead in 1943.
Karragaroo subsequently passed through a number of owners, one of whom converted it into eight flats. The current owners have undertaken considerable structural work, including the reopening of verandahs, the return of its cast iron balustrading and interior renovation work.