Tucked alongside Leinster House on the city’s south side is South Frederick Street, a modest thoroughfare running between Molesworth Street and Nassau Street. The street was laid out in the 1730s as a fashionable enclave of residential houses adjoining Joshua Dawson's successful new Dawson Street nearby. Unofrtunately, South Frederick Street was radically altered during the 20th century with a series of house demolitions and monolithic office development replacement. While less than half of the original buildings now survive, the street manages to retain a semblance of its original self thanks, in part, to the retention and refurbishment of two houses by Dublin Civic Trust.
Sited in the middle of the street is Number 11, a handsome four-storey over basement house constructed during the 1750s. What makes the building particularly unusual is its grandiose internal plan that features a ‘cantilevered’ staircase ascending from the ground floor to the second floor.
The house is identified by a handsome Gibbsian doorcase set in an austere red brick façade. To the rear, a distinctive bow feature called an ‘echo’ projects on every level from the grand rear rooms – a most unusual characteristic in Dublin houses.
Back from the brink
Number 11 was acquired and restored by Dublin Civic Trust in 1993 as its first building conservation project at a time when the house was perilously close to being lost. It was followed shortly afterwards by the refurbishment of neighbouring Number 10.
These projects in their own way followed in the efforts of countless conservation groups such as An Taisce and the Irish Georgian Society in preserving Dublin's architectural heritage during the 1960s to the 1990s, much of which focused on nationally significant stretches of streetscape and historic public buildings. The aim of the South Frederick Street projects was to shine a light on the often overlooked merchant buildings and houses of the city - a tradition which Dublin Civic Trust has continued with its Revolving Fund mechanisim.
Both returned to their original residential use upon completion, Numbers 10 and 11 still remain as private family homes, demonstrating the enduring value of these buildings as city residences.