Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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@Devin wrote:

Nos. 37 & 39 Montpelier Hill circa 2005.

More conjecture here. Gables have been added to a pair of early houses at Nos. 37 & 39 Montpelier Hill, on the basis that they would have had some type of gables at some point.

More conjecture yes, but there was evidence that could have been used to carry out a reasonably accurate reconstruction, and it wasn’t used.

A Joseph Tudor image of a pair of ‘Dutch Billys’ on Montpelier Hill in 1753 (almost certainly this pair) and a recent shot of the houses after partial reconstruction with larger triangular gables.

Nos. 37 & 39 outlined on an O.S map and a poor recent photograph of one of the brick reveals, from through the hoarding.

I’ve screwed up every photograph I’ve tried to take of these houses over the last year, but a few things are clear:

The houses were originally constructed of classic ‘Billy’ red brick with beautiful simple stone door surrounds. In the reconstruction, to facilitate a concrete ring beam and new light weight blockwork construction, they chose to re-render the facades.

In order to achieve more floor area in the attic storey, or just as a pure guess, they raised the roof profile and constructed a double window facade to each of the gables.

Like 42 Manor Street, we’re left with renovated buildings that should last into the foreseeable future, but buildings that are not an accurate restoration of their original design, nor, in the case of the Manor street house, an accurate conservation of it’s Georgian remodelling.

Unlike Manor Street, the Montpelier Hill houses, having lost their complete top storey, should have been ripe for ‘Billy’ reconstruction. Not to attempt do so, and then to do this compromise version instead, consisting of large triangular gables and rendered facades that these houses would never have had, is another missed opportunity in my opinion.

Maybe this is a bit harsh, given the near derelict condition that these houses have been rescued from, but we only have so many of these houses and what is so terribly wrong about restoring them properly. As restored ‘Billys’ they could have begun to re-tell that whole ‘gabled city’ chapter that is the missing from Dublin’s streetscape story. Now we’re back to having to use our imagination again.

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