Mount Street, Dublin

Mount Street, Dublin

Postby GrahamH » Sat Apr 17, 2010 3:27 am

17/4/2010

It seems this is the official Merrion Square thread!

The scaffolding that has shrouded Nos. 58-61 Lower Mount Street for just under the past year has recently been removed, bestowing an architectural jewel on the city - one which exhibits on a large scale the traditional craft of brick pointing that has finally refined itself in the capital over the past three years.

The group of four houses, for many years in the occupation of the adjoining National Maternity Hospital, stood in a shamefully neglected condition at the north-eastern corner of Merrion Square for as long as many people can remember. Here they are as depicted in Dublin Civic Trust’s Wasting Assets survey back in 2000.

Image


And here they are in the photograph submitted as part of the planning application.

Image


Luckily the application for the houses’ refurbishment and modification for use as offices and consulting rooms was lodged in late 2006, before the fall in the property market. A delay of a year or so appears to have ensued, finally resulting in scaffolding being erected on site in June 2009.

Image


The finished result.

Image


What a marvellous vista of restored, mellowed elegance.

Image


More on the details in a moment. We don’t know much about the origins of these curious houses, as the conservation report, compiled by David Slattery, doesn’t tell us. The report states the obvious, namely that these are late Georgian houses. We are not told in what phases they were built, or most critically of all, why the Victorian additions were carried out, for whom, and exactly when. This is the central interest of these houses – they are almost unique in the city in this respect - and one of the principal reasons an historical assessment would be carried out on them: firstly to assess their significance, and secondly, to inform alterations and retentions as appropriate.

The report is also somewhat confused. Here is the 1797 map, showing what appears to be the beginnings of the buildings we have today, but it's hard to be sure. Note the clear gap in the terrace.

Image


The later 1837 map is described in the report as having a “carriage arch and opening”, when this is clearly still a gap in the terrace.

Image


Here it is again, more clearly, in the revised 1847 map, for which no assessment is included in the report. Again, we can see a full blown gap in the terrace, albeit with a smaller structure consuming part of the plot. The fact this is not a carriage arch can be confirmed by the archway depicted at the bottom right of the map with an X, as is standard all over the map.

Image


So as late as 1847, there would appear to have been a gap in the terrace where the modern-day archway is, with only part of that plot covered where the door is now.

Image

Indeed, just looking at the terrace, we can clearly see that the two grand houses to the left were built as a pair, or at least built contemporaneously (the right-hand one has had a stucco cornice added later), while the two far houses were built later and probably at different times to each other.

This is borne out by looking at the terrace head-on and the variations in brickwork. Spot the infill piggy in the middle anyone?!

Image

It would appear the two grand houses and the far right one were built at roughly the same time, while the middle one with archway was inserted, or at least aggrandised from a smaller structure, at a later date.
GrahamH
Old Master
 
Posts: 4580
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2002 11:24 am
Location: Ireland

Re: Pyramid in Merrion Square

Postby GrahamH » Sat Apr 17, 2010 3:29 am

The aerial view also seems to tell us this.

Image


As shown earlier, some time in the mid-19th century, probably c. 1855-65, the ground floors of three of the buildings were merged into what seems to have been a new commercial premises. They were adorned with the typical trappings of adaptive Victoriana, peculiar to this part of the city, with apparently Roman cement stucco dressings and render coat, as seen in places like Westland Row and Dawson Street. Handsomely and robustly detailed, they added a dash of decorative interest to proceedings without undoing the reticence of the wider streetscape. A central carriage arch and attractive cast iron railings were also added as part of the improving ensemble.

Image

As can be seen above, an array of one-over-one and two-over-two sash windows were installed as part of the modification. So where are they now?

Image

This array of fenestration was an intrinsic part of the history of these buildings. Why on earth ditch them in favour of mock-Georgian sashes? The very fact that the evolution of these buildings into a commercial or institutional premises of some kind was not highlighted in the conservation report, has led to the windows' disposal in favour of a window type that never existed on these buildings at the same time as the stucco adornments.

Furthermore, it was proposed in the conservation report that the one-over-ones be retained at shop front level. Yet even these have been replaced with Georgian windows, when this shop front never had Georgian windows. The result? Squat panes that are almost square in dimension.

Image


Of course the real reason for all of this was to get double glazing in right across the building. This development is the first of its kind on such a scale to use what appears to be Slimlite glazing from the UK. The thickness of the double glazed units goes barely a few millimetres beyond a thick sheet of glass.

Image

The problem is that these panes are held in position using timber beading instead of putty (though apparently they can be used with putty), so the traditional method is lost. Secondly, the appearance of the profile of the window is markedly different to the passerby, with black lines running parallel to each glazing bar.

Image

It is quite jarring on an historic building.

It has to be said though, the profiles from a distance are spot on. There’s no faulting the head-on appearance.

Image

Saying that, the bars are at their maximum width. Add 50 years of layers of paint and the bars will probably be wider than a traditionally made window of similar age.

In addition to this, the conservation report clearly shows 1830-40 type horns on the surviving original Georgian windows to the rear of the two right-hand houses. These were not replicated on the front of the houses in the repro windows. Why not? So now we have incongruously modern, historically incorrect, inaccurately detailed and blatantly misleading windows in at least two houses of this development.

Window-picking aside, the brickwork is simply superb. A masterful job, and from what can be made out, a thoroughly appropriate one. The far left house, oddly, is built of yellow brick. All of the other houses are built of red brick. It would seem that the yellow house was re-pointed with a red mortar in the 19th century alterations, in which case it made sense to continue this tradition given the house is clamped in the midst of an otherwise red brick terrace.

Image


Up close, we can see the yellow brick with the new red stopping mortar applied.

Image



Image
GrahamH
Old Master
 
Posts: 4580
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2002 11:24 am
Location: Ireland

Re: Pyramid in Merrion Square

Postby GrahamH » Sat Apr 17, 2010 3:37 am

The contrast with the neighbouring red brick houses is clearly apparent.

Image


Exquisite slivers of unpainted lime render was applied to the window reveals.

Image


The removal of paint from the right-hand house’s shop front appears to have necessitated a renewal of its render finish.

Image


The original surface was retained at No. 59.

Image


Paint was also removed from the doorcase of No. 58 (and a reproduction door made in place of a blocked up window).

Image


Some paint remains, but best not be be overly zealous. A sensitive job.

Image




Image


The stucco hoods look outstanding. It may be debatable if these were left unpainted originally.

Image


Either way they're beautiful.

Image


This complication in modification was deftly handled originally!

Image
GrahamH
Old Master
 
Posts: 4580
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2002 11:24 am
Location: Ireland

Re: Pyramid in Merrion Square

Postby GrahamH » Sat Apr 17, 2010 3:43 am

Image


The central granite carriage arch.

Image


We’re not told who Goff’s are – a real shame. It ain’t up to me to go looking. The doors seem to be original.

Image


Limestone ashlar to the basement, freshly pointed.

Image


As with the granite steps.

Image


The delightful choice of paint colours lends a playful air to the otherwise stern elevations.

Image


The mustard shade ties in nicely with the earthy tones around it too.

Image


This door had been taken out in the 20th century so had to be reproduced. This comparison shows an original panel and the new one.

Image


It seems to be quite accurate. Things get tricky when multiple layers of paint are involved...

Image


Alas it’s the little things that matter. The omission of the dinky corner corbels is unnecessary.

Image
GrahamH
Old Master
 
Posts: 4580
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2002 11:24 am
Location: Ireland

Re: Pyramid in Merrion Square

Postby GrahamH » Sat Apr 17, 2010 3:47 am

An original.

Image


While the externally mounted draught-proofing is hardly flattering.

Image


The archway has been successfully used as a means of giving access to the series of intercommunicating houses, including a wheelchair lift. The detailing’s a bit humdrum, but the concept works well, while also lending purpose and prestige to the carriage arch (the Frawley’s mansion carriage arch also springs to mind for such use).

Image


The ceiling with lighting and glazed screen beyond.

Image


The rear, with new, independent lift shaft. Developer yellow just had to sneak in somewhere didn’t it!

Image


The railings have been well painted.

Image


The granite pavement outside, the repair of which I believe is the responsibility of the developer, has yet to be dealt with, in spite of the buildings being in use for a number of weeks now.

Image


An interesting example here of where a coal chute appears to have been filled with concrete - the cover has just been mislaid.

Image


Well preserved square diorite setts form the surface to the main entrance. A classy water cover insertion as ever.

Image
GrahamH
Old Master
 
Posts: 4580
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2002 11:24 am
Location: Ireland

Re: Pyramid in Merrion Square

Postby GrahamH » Sat Apr 17, 2010 3:48 am

So given the development levy to Dublin City Council was over €70,000, what’s the likelihood of a new street sign any time this side of Christmas?

Image


In conclusion, a beautifully detailed, sensitive refurbishment – we can only imagine the interiors, which have interesting transitional plasterwork and quirky details, are well fitted out – that in spite of the window issue, which some may regard as ideological rather than aesthetic, restores grace and charm to what has been for many years a rather forgotten corner of the Georgian city.

Image
GrahamH
Old Master
 
Posts: 4580
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2002 11:24 am
Location: Ireland

Re: Pyramid in Merrion Square

Postby Morlan » Sat Apr 17, 2010 7:43 am

GrahamH wrote:The central granite carriage arch.

Image

We’re not told who Goff’s are – a real shame. It ain’t up to me to go looking. The doors seem to be original.


Great post Graham. The focus is the horse.

"In 1925.. the company established its main offices in Dublin at Sewell & Son and Simpson's Yard in Mount Street where sales were held.."

http://www.goffs.com/about/history.htm

Also has a brief mention in Ulysses. Will post more if I find anything.
User avatar
Morlan
Senior Member
 
Posts: 831
Joined: Thu Oct 09, 2003 2:47 pm
Location: Áth Cliath

Re: Pyramid in Merrion Square

Postby GrahamH » Sat Apr 17, 2010 10:45 am

Aha! Thanks Morlan. The Horse seemed all a bit too obvious! Presumably the sales came to an abrupt end with the construction of the adjoining hospital, but you never quite know with this city...

It would appear the houses were originally adapted to accommodate livery stables or coach-related activity of some kind. Thom's of course would tell us all. An extract from Shaw's Directory of 1850 included in the historical assessment report noted some of the houses as being vacant in that year.
GrahamH
Old Master
 
Posts: 4580
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2002 11:24 am
Location: Ireland

Re: Pyramid in Merrion Square

Postby tommyt » Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:45 pm

Thanks for the round up Graham- I had thought (and posted previously) this work would go in the Holles st. thread?
tommyt
Member
 
Posts: 455
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 7:39 pm
Location: D5

Re: Pyramid in Merrion Square

Postby GrahamH » Sun Apr 18, 2010 10:28 pm

Doh! Apologies tommyt - for the life of me I couldn't think where this development was recently mentioned. Now I remember your post! Agreed it would be more appropriate there. May the gods feel free to move it...
GrahamH
Old Master
 
Posts: 4580
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2002 11:24 am
Location: Ireland

Re: Mount Street, Dublin

Postby PVC King » Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:09 pm

Another splendid thread recording the detail of another very well executed restoration. Hopefully both the threads and the subject matter for these threads will continue; as a resourse these are fantastic; no doubt contractors will stumble on the important little touches such as the corbles which do really make all the difference.

On the subject of the glass lift has the access issue been resolved at the Bank of Ireland yet; a much tougher place to provide equality of access without shredding some clearly visable fabric of a true masterpiece?
PVC King
 


Return to Ireland