Benares is associated with the early settlement of the north shore of Lake Ontario. The house, home of Captain James Harris, is located on one of the earliest settled sites in the village of Clarkson's Corners (later shortened to Clarkson).

The house itself dates from the late 1850s. Benares takes its name from a holy city in India and maintains a literary connection with one of the best-selling Canadian works ever published. Between 1927 and 1960, 16 books were written by Mazo de la Roche known as the "Jalna" books that chronicle the life of the fictional Whiteoak Family.

This late-Georgian red brick house has seen few changes since its construction. The residence commands a 5.7 acre site (2.3 hectares) with stable and outbuildings. The house allows for a significant understanding of the evolution of a 19th- and 20th-century rural Ontario lifestyle. The house is currently operated by the City of Mississauga as a museum.

The City of Mississauga designated the residence under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1977, and, in 2000, the Ontario Heritage Trust secured a conservation easement on the building. The easement agreement was the final result of a transfer of ownership from the Trust to the City of Mississauga following a complete restoration of the building in the 1990s.