1810s – Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin


Twelve early 19th century Georgian houses that were demolished by the ESB in the early 1960s to build a new headquarters by Stephenson Gibney & Associates. The architect Sam Stephenson argued at the time of construction, that Georgian houses were “never intended to last more than a lifetime” and it should be clearly understood that “they cannot be usefully preserved at all”. The demolition destroyed what was then Dublin’s longest continuous Georgian streetscape.

From a 1962 Irish Georgian Society bulletin:
“Sir Albert Richardson advanced the plan that the ESB vacate most of the lower Fitzwilliam Street houses, building their new accommodation in the form of a tower in the remaining garden space. He estimates the cost of structural renovation and conversion back to domestic use at 6,000 per house. There are sixteen houses involved.

Sir Albert says: The main issue in this controversy is the interest of the general public in a heritage of beauty. Dublin, like Venice, has a charm denied to most capital cities; the mountains, the sea, the moist atmosphere blend the conventions of architecture and scenery in a way which is indescribable. This is recognised by ordinary folk to be a heritage common to all – do not despise it. Fitzwilliam and Merrion Squares form the most important contribution to the European manner of the eighteenth century. No one architect or particular individual was responsible for the charm and spontaneity of these productions of the craftsmen of the time. And no eighteenth-century houses were substantially rebuilt – does that lessen their merit?”

The English architectural historian, Sir John Summerson was paid by the ESB for his opinion and condemned the houses as a “sloppy, uneven series” with no architectural coherence: “It is simply one damned house after another.”

Last Updated May 16th, 2024 at 8:33 pm