House of the week: Cork's a city rising under St Luke's Cross home

Pictures: Ted Murphy

THERE’S a set-back charm, on the double, to sunnily set 66, Wellington Road, in Cork city’s genteel (or, at least, regentrifying) St Luke’s Cross, between the city centre and Montenotte.

The sizeable, semi-detached period No 66, called Mount Verdon House, dating to the cusp of Georgian era architecture turning to Victorian affluence, is one of a pair of notable homes straddling sloping, south-facing grounds between Summerhill North, and Wellington Road, with both Nos 65 and 66 having gated access at either extremity.

The duo’s era of construction is variously put at 1830, and 1850, and the quality of architecture at 65 and 66 Wellington Road is detailed in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage/Buildings of Ireland, which mentions its elevated setting with river views, its courtyard entrance and former servants’ quarters, and further notes “its generous proportions are typical of the nineteenth century houses in this area, which were built by the wealthy Cork merchant class.”

Mount Verdon House’s ‘other half,’ No 65, called Summer House, came to market in 2015, guiding €695,000 with Lisneys for its long-time owners, the Stokes family, and the Price Register shows it selling by 2016 for €605,000, the eventual sale price reflecting the amount of work likely to be done to it.

And, done it is! Summer House has had a very major, and presumably costly, overhaul and upgrade and conservation, having been acquired by an individual in the arts and culture sector, relocating to Ireland from the UK with a young family, and keen for an authentic urban living experience.

It would seem now that No 66 is having a similar appeal, and is set to get a similar viewing cohort from next week, via Savills.

Estate agent Lawrence Sweeney of Savills Cork has the first six viewings booked in, and says the profile of inquiries is, indeed, returning Irish, and other families with children already in schools in the Wellington Road/St Patrick’s Hill/Gardiners Hill area.

Mr Sweeney guides Mount Verdon House at €595,000, and it had been on the market with another agent at the start of last summer, when it had carried a price hope of €700,000.

That’s now been readjusted, perhaps in recognition of how much may need to be spent on this elegant 4,000 sq ft home to bring it up to 21st century living standards. And, even in contrast with the period of conservation and renovations at No 65, attached just to the west, build costs have shot up, and skilled trades’ people are even harder to secure.

But, for those taking the long view, as well as taking in the immediate physical panoramic views, this is a property to prize, with a location soaring back into the ascendant.

Directly below Summerhill North, two major development schemes flying up in construction by the railway station, Penrose Dock (all offices) and Horgans Quay/HQ (offices, hotel, and apartments) promise to be game changers for the city’s north quays, for MacCurtain Street and older, inner northside suburbs.

St Luke’s Cross already has its mojo back, thanks to things like the live music concert venue in the cross’s former C of I church, cafes, bars and bistros are buzzing, and the two nearby hotels, the Ambassador and the Montenotte, have forged ahead under new ownerships. Plus, the city’s just down the road, while the new Lee-crossing pedestrian bridge also linking in to MacCurtain Street is now in situ.

Auctioneer Lawrence Sweeney says Mount Verdon House has unbeatable views, private garden, bright aspect, and “endless potential.” It has gated access with garage and off-street parking by the Wellington Road/courtyard access, and there’s more than enough room to have home and home office combined; or there’s rooms too with Airbnb/guest and income-earning potential.

It has several expansive reception rooms with some grandeur, and up to five bedrooms (one en suite,), several access point to patios and gardens, while a pedestrian gate by the garden’s end speeds a walking route and stroll to town, and a city on the rise.

VERDICT: An attractive asking price, but there’s lots more to invest in here, with the pay-back being an enviable living environment, and no commute.

Wellington Road, Cork City

€595,000

Size: 375 sq m (4,004 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 5

Bathrooms: 3

BER: F

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