The history of the President's Residence is tied to Dalhousie's distinguished alumnus R.B. Bennett, 11th Prime Minister of Canada (1930-35). Bennett graduated from Dalhousie Law in 1893, after which he served on the university's Board of Governors for almost 20 years. In 1925, Bennett donated $20,000 to Dalhousie for the purpose of acquiring a house at 1460 Oxford St., which would serve as the official residence of the university president.
The estate of which the Residence was a part originally belonged to a West Indian merchant named Levi Hart. Hart acquired sections of the property over time in the 1860s. He lived in the house until his death in 1907, after which time his wife, and daughter and her family stayed on.
After the house was purchased by Dalhousie from Hart's son-in-law, it was home to three successive presidents: A. Stanley Mackenzie (1925-1931), Carleton W. Stanley (1931- 1945) and A. E. Kerr (1945-1963). When Henry Hicks became President in 1963, he chose to remain in his former home at 6446 Coburg Street. The President's Residence was converted into offices which housed the Psychology department, then Education.
In the 1980s, the house was thoroughly renovated at great expense, returning to its former use as the residence of the President. In 1994, a report of the Budget Advisory Committee recommended that the building be sold. Some saw the Residence as an extravagant and unnecessary source of expenditure. Others argued, though, that it was an important alternative to the Faculty Club for hosting events and receptions. In 1995, the Board of Governors decided to keep the President's Residence, on the condition that it be used extensively for social events like entertaining visiting dignitaries.