However, now it has been restored to its former glory and it is open to the public every day.
The monthly highlight of Burnett House is that it offers a High Tea. For a princely sum of $25 for two, anyone can have afternoon tea in the English style of the period, complete with beautiful porcelain crockery and individual teapots.
There is a lounge ('drawing room') on the bottom floor which is a large area where guests would have been made welcome and offered drinks and hors d'oeuvres and where the butler and maids in waiting would have taken coats and scarves.
The kitchen was off to one side through a small hallway, and is now set out in the style of the day, small compared to most modern kitchen areas but considerably larger than would have been in most households of 'ordinary' people.
Upstairs is one very large central bedroom which is surrounded on three sides by covered in verandahs, one of which serves as a sitting room where drinks were served and the occupants could look out over the harbour while relaxing.
The bed was covered with a mosquito net tied up for day time convenience. On one side of the bed was the latest 1930's radio set in beautifully polished timbers, while on the other side were free standing wardrobes, set up for display with men's ties hanging in one section and fashionable ladies' evening gowns in the other.
Burnett House is only one of four like it remaining in Darwin and stands as a beacon of a past era.
Yet the essentials of a home are all these, precisely the same essentials that have stood within all homes from time immemorial. The question therefore remains as it has always done so, what is a home?
It is here that we can differentiate between a house as a building, and a home which is the ingredients that make up what we might refer to as the ideal living experiences involving (usually) family living: giving and receiving love; being cherished and caring for others; having a place for personal privacy, and being able to feel safe.
The Bible certainly emphasises the importance of a home. Deuteronomy 6 centres on the ingredients of a godly home and II Timothy 3 verse 15 emphasises the importance of raising our children within such an environment.
Burnett House exhibited precisely all of this; and we can now see how it still stands as an illustration of a home.