View of the entrance to Cairnhill

Charles Carnie, a partner in W.R. Paterson & Company, was the first to build a house in Cairnhill in 1840. According to John Turnbull Thomson, the Government Surveyor, the estate covered about 27 hectares (68 acres). Earlier plantation houses, according to architectural historian Lee Kip Lin, built in Orchard and Tanglin were usually on “the highest ground of the estate, in the middle of the vast domain, in quiet seclusion at the end of a long winding carriageway”. By 1848, Carnie’s estate was one of the largest nutmeg plantations in Tanglin, with 4,370 trees. He stayed in Singapore until the mid-1850s before returning to Scotland, although his firm continued until 1885. In 1884, the Chartered Bank purchased the property and replaced Carnie’s double-storey residence with a single-storey house for the bank’s manager.