House of the week: SansSouci, Douglas Road, Cork

Coming up on its 90th birthday next year is this family home, in three generations of ownership and only now for sale for the first time ever.

Douglas Road, Cork - €795,000

Size: 176 sq m (1,900 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 2


Called Sans Souci, it carries a name that may need some living up to: Sans Souci, meaning ‘without worry’ or ‘carefree’ in French, is a name that has adored palaces, real and imaginary, in earlier centuries.

There have been Sans Souci palaces in Indonesia, in Haiti and in Germany, in the former Prussia, where monarch Frederick the Great built his summer palace Sans Souci near Potsdam, in a rococo construction often compared in quality terms to the palais at Versailles.

So, absolutely no palatial pressure to deliver on Cork’s Sans Souci, surely?

What this well-built, but now dated, suburban dormer bungalow might lack in grandeur, it makes up for in terms of location, set on a truly prime and private 0.3 acre walled site on the Douglas Road.

It’s described as “a triple-A location” by selling agent Sheila O’Flynn of Sherry FitzGerald, who launches the c 1,900 sq ft home at €795,000, acknowledging that it needs upgrading, and may in fact get a considerable makeover and stripping back before rising to 21st century residential grandeur. And, although she doesn’t say it, it may even be removed and replaced, with its site deemed of sufficient merit to justify a more major investment decision.

It’s happened already, you see, left and right of Sans Souci, on this prestigious run of the road, almost equidistant between the city centre and Douglas village, set near the Cross Douglas Road and within a handy walk of both.

Just to the east/Douglas side, the former lodge to the imperial 1820s Knockrea House (home to business representative body IBEC) is now a building site and new-home in waiting. The compact Knockrea Lodge went to market in 2015, guiding €325,000 and sold for €405,000. It was demolished, and a new, highly insulated concrete framework (ICF) house is currently rising up in the lodge’s stead.

Just a few doors away too, on the city side of Sans Souci, the owner of another privately-owned detached home facing the Cross Douglas Road junction knocked his long-time owned mid 1900s home and rebuilt a far larger passive home, to a design by Wain Morehead architects.

So, indeed there is precedent and form in the Cork market, and in particular in this Douglas Road hinterland over the past decade, for people to invest heavily in bricks and mortar for family homes par excellence, underpinned by quality of location. So, the fate of Sans Souci is rather up in the air, up to the vagaries of competitive bidding, and personal preferences of its next owners.

It’s not all about knocking down, either. A larger, and grander 1909-built ) ‘dormer’ called Cooleens near St Finbarr’s Hospital and on an incredible acre was bought for €755,000 by a family, and since has had very extensive upgrades, including underpinning, and is good for another century plus.

House of the week: SansSouci, Douglas Road, Cork

At Sans Souci, the red tile roof and dash-faced home is set toward the back of a wide and wedge-shaped mature site, with considerable privacy and bounded by high, old stone walls, with a detached garage and workshed tucked away at the back. The entrance drive is fringed in low stone walls and raised beds, and when the builders’ vans inevitably come, there’ll be a bit of a restricted gauntlet to run, so it’s likely to be opened up a bit for easier access and egress.

Best rooms are at ground level, once past a sunny terrazzo-floored entrance porch and the hall. The main living room has a bay window, open fireplace and links to a dining room: both have much-polished oak parquet flooring, with some wood-panelled internal walls, and a second reception is off to the back of the home, in an add-on wing.

One of the ground floor’s two bedrooms is en suite, and the hall ends with a splayed section accessing the kitchen on one side, and another door leads via a tight staircase to the attic rooms under low, sloping ceilings.

There’s a charm and some comforts (central heating, double glazing, alarm, etc, added since its 1928 construction) but on a prime site like this, Sans Souci is going to become much, much more. Something more palatial, perhaps.

VERDICT: Open viewing today 11-11.45AM. No worries.


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