Gardiner’s Hill home is all done up on the inside writes Tommy Barker.
Gardiner’s Hill Cork City
Size: 158 sq m (1,700 sq ft)
Best Feature: Painstaking restoration and cracking, leafy old suburban setting
No 3 Willmount has graced these pages before (twice in fact,) but in nothing like the condition it now is in.
Set along what almost feels like the end of a country boreen, yet within a walk of Cork City in old St Luke’s area, it’s an absolute hideaway home, lovely, on lush gardens, all done up inside to a tasty tee, and there’s just the attic left to finalise.
And, now that it is back for sale, it should take wings and fly.
Agent Conor Lynch of James G Coughlan Associates was the first to get excited about the fresh listing of this end-terrace house, hidden away off Gardiner’s Hill above St Luke’s Cross, and since he’s now a week-plus into viewings, the excitement is rippling outwards: the house is very good, and the setting’s quite special.
Now more than a century old, No 3 has had an age-appropriate renovation job, started by the previous owner, an architect, who put in replacement timber double-glazed pulleyed sash windows, but the credit for the current look, feel and character is down to the current owners, selling up to move back from city to country living, with a young family.
We first covered this late Victorian three-storey home in these pages when it came up for sale a decade ago, as a do-er upper on large gardens with remnants of old greenhouses on a steeply sloping site, with planning in place for a bungalow in No 3’s side grounds.
It went twice to market, with different agents, guiding €300,000-€320,000, and was bought by a young family, an artist and an architect.
They got a planning grant instead for a new, eco-house hewn into the garden slope, and called it No 4, and put No 3 back up for sale in 2009.
Back then, it had a price guide of €420,000 in a wobbly market, and is understood to have sold for about €380,000, before phase 2 of its makeover got in gear.
Now, it’s back priced at €420,000, and it needs little or nothing done to it.
Going on recent sales in the vicinity, Mr Lynch is confident of getting, or surpassing, his guide, while for buyers there’s confidence too in the fact so much has already been done, almost any further outlay will be discretionary.
No 3 avoids many of the shortfalls of older homes in the once-more bohemian St Luke’s area: Willmount has just four houses in all in its off-street enclave, and No 1 has enormous gardens, much as No 3 must have done.
All gardens are tended, so there’s a leafy, appreciated feel to the cul de sac row, all the way down to the ‘green’ build contemporary No 4 with its cheery orange house number on the side wall.
And, not only does No 3 have car parking, it even has a detached garage (with roller shutter door) by its entrance; the house is quite screened beyond its front garden, which has taken off with a verdant vengeance, lit up by a summer blaze of fiery red crocosmia lucifer, usually regarded as a seaside plant, but clearly at home here in the ‘burbs.
There are further gardens behind, sloping away from the end-terrace home and its return annexe, and there’s side garden access.
Back behind, the sloping grounds are private, denser, even leafier, with mature trees around and they include a hen house, several old apple trees, and veg and herb beds, with a current crop of potatoes in flower, as well as wigwams of beans and peas, raspberries and blackcurrant bushes too for cordial relations.
Oh, and in between, the c 1,700 sq ft 4/5 five-bed house itself isn’t too scanty either, laying down a marker of quality restoration from the aged limestone doorstep to the newly lime re-rendered facade and ashlar-style porch inwards.
The current owners reordered the front porch, and now it has alu-clad, tall and grey-hued energy-efficient Rationale windows on top of new, cut Kilkenny limestone sills, under a pressed metal lead roof, while inside is an old, hefty York stone slab floor.
Once through and into the hall, there’s an immaculate, relaid encaustic tile floor with traditional colouring, and it wends its way neatly around a curved, wood-panelled wainscotted wall in the long, deep hall.
That curve is then as much of an original build/architectural feature on the other side, in the front 19’ by 12’ reception room, with defining picture rail and mustard coloured walls.
Reception rooms front and back at No 3 are interlinked, with connecting double doors in stripped pine, and both have quality replacement timber sash window, two to the front, one behind.
Floors are simple pine boards, the cast iron fireplace in the front reception room is original, with ornate slate/red marble fireplace with cast iron insert and inlaid tiling: the rear room’s fireplace is a mid-1900s tiled piece, quite at home between twin built-in bookcase cabinets.
Down past the stairs and understairs storage, a few steps drop you down into the impactful kitchen/dining room, whose real distinction is the look of its exposed back, stone and brick wall with brick arch encircling a wood-burning stove.
The occupants reworked this space quite a bit, extending it to the side, and installing a painted solid timber kitchen, with oak tops and Belfast sink for country style, and put in an overhead rooflight, old wood beams in the sloping ceiling, and reused salvaged brick for the back wall, where a painted teak door leads to a rear yard and utility on the return annex’s lower level.
There’s an old-fashioned outside loo here too, with the house’s proper, main family bathroom directly above, and that return room with re-enamelled cast iron bath, shower and marmoleum floor serves the first floor’s three bedroom, the largest of which is to the front, with two of the house’s distinctive two-over-one paned sash windows.
None of the three first floor bedrooms has an en suite, and the next largest after the front master bedroom has a bank of 1960s’ style, wholly functional built-ins, floor to ceiling, left in their original dark, varnished state.
The first floor landing has two gable wall windows, so is bright thanks to a south west aspect, and then a quite narrow, steep-ish stairs leads to the attic level, with two more dormer style rooms, with sloping ceilings and original wood-clad dormers with plain fascia boards and finals, and, once more, two-over-one pane windows in painted timber frames.
Right now, these rooms are relatively unused: one has a cast iron fireplace, and very little would be needed to turn them from storage to study, or guest bedroom(s).
Coming for sale, 3 Wilmount is tastily presented, smartly decorated and maintained and showing extremely well, and is just the latest of several covetable period era homes to come to market in the wider St Luke’s Cross area (see p 6 for a ‘starter’ version at €185k).
Last weekend, we featured a Wellesley Terrace four-story, 3,000 sq ft mid-terraced home above Wellington Road, also a walk-in job, but that was far larger than here, and dearer too, guided at €585,000 by Sherry Fitz and which had the first of its open viewings this day last Saturday.
James G Coughlan Associates selling agent Conor Lynch says he’s getting a cross-section of viewings so far at No 3 Willmount, ranging from younger professionals and relocaters from Dublin, the UK and county, to those who really want the city living experience and convenience, with very few trade-offs due to its private enclave setting.
Just down the road is St Luke’s Cross and many, many schools and colleges around St Patrick’s Hill.
Just east along the hill is the just-revamped Montenotte Hotel with new bar, restaurant and dining/viewing terrace plus hotel cinema, while the Ambassador Hotel too has taken a giant leap forward in investment terms in the past 18 months, also now with outdoor terrace for fine weather, al fresco view taking and dining.
It’’s all quite in keeping with the pace, presumably, of regentrification of St Luke’s hinterland, already home to famed Henchy’s bar and the adjoining wine/tapas tavern, gourmet food store O’Keeffe’s/deli, butchers and more, while the original church atop Summerhill North is now a concert venue of note and reverential character.
And, there’s been a bit of rightful renewal and reverence shown too to 3 Willmount.