The Challenge

Number 11 was one of two houses (along with Number 10) on South Frederick Street owned by New Ireland Assurance. The company had started a programme of development on Dawson Street in the 1960s and progressed into buying up the west side of South Frederick Street in subsequent years. As the firm had been unable to purchase Number 12 from Miley and Miley solicitors, Numbers 10 and 11 were spared demolition and retained as site offices for the entire building complex that was erected alongside.

When work was complete in the early 1990s, New Ireland costed the price of demolishing the pair of houses and erecting a block of apartments on the site. Fortunately for Dublin, the financial climate was not conducive to such an action and the Trust saw an opportunity to acquire the houses and restore them, assuring their future. The houses were acquired by licence from New Ireland Assurance Company on the basis that they would be restored by the Trust as its first restoration project. This action would also fulfil a planning requirement on the part of New Ireland to retain a residential content in their large development site spread over three adjoining streets.

As the building had been in site office use for many years with limited maintenance, it exhibited a number of structural failings including decayed window heads, staircase supports and delamination of masonry and plaster. It also required a complete overhaul of mechanical and electrical services.

Numbers 10 (left) and 11 (right) in the early 1990s prior to restoration

Numbers 10 (left) and 11 (right) in the early 1990s prior to restoration

Conservation Work

Between 1993 and 1995, Number 11 was transformed by the Trust from a down-at-heel commercial building into an elegant family town house. Central to the restoration programme was the maximum retention of original fabric, consolidation of the building’s structural integrity and repair of all original features.

The Trust engaged an architect and a conservation engineer to carry out the major structural work required to stabilise the building. This included replacing rotten timber window heads and angle-strapping corners. All internal joinery repairs were done in situ where possible and where window repairs or glazing bar replacement were needed, these were done in a joinery workshop. Traditional lime repair pointing was applied to the external brickwork only where necessary rather than undertaking a wholesale replacement of its relatively sound mortar pointing. This was one of the first large-scale uses of fine lime pointing in Dublin and set a trend for similar projects in subsequent years.

Opposite: The distinctive chamfered 'echo' or bow window protruding from the rear of the building. All joinery was carefully spliced, retaining the maximum amount of original fabric while inserting new repairs on a like-for-like basis.

The external brickwork, in spite of outward appearances, was generally in good condition. Limited brick replacement was undertaken where original bricks had spalled beyond a state of reliable repair , and the facade was repointed using a stone-coloured mortar that was compatiable with the brick colour.

Internally, traditional lime plaster and paint were used to allow for breathability, while all new services were carefully installed to conceal wiring and ducts where possible. Traditional Georgian colours were used in the main reception rooms and in the magnificent hall.

President Mary Robinson formally opened 11 South Frederick Street in its fully restored state in 1995. It was subsequently purchased in 1995 by the renowned artist Graham Knuttel as a family home and host for his studio which was accommodated on the ground floor. Mr Knuttel sold the property to another residential owner in 2015, where the house has happily been given yet another lease of life and handsome exterior decoration.


Opposite: Brick repairs and repointing to the facade of Number 11.