Storybook Blackrock house for €1.75m
Brendan Behan was a regular visitor, novelist Brian O'Nolan (whose most famous pseudonyms were Myles na gCopaleen and Flann O'Brien) lived three doors up, and James Joyce lived nearby for a short period at Carysfort Avenue. Number 1 Avoca Terrace, Blackrock, Co Dublin, is a property with a story to tell.
This two storey over basement early Victorian house is thought to have been built before 1850 in one of the coastal suburb's landmark developments, with its earliest traced resident recorded in 1854. The nine-bedroom house was subdivided into three self-contained apartments about 100 years ago.
The vendors, the Stephenson family, say it would be relatively straightforward to reinstate the original layout of the dwelling, which is a protected structure, subject to full planning permission. It was mainly the ground floor flat that was reconfigured and plasterboard was used to divide the rooms for minimal disturbance of the decorative plasterwork.
There is also potential to turn it into a family home with basement apartment. Work is currently taking place on another property on the four-house terrace which overlooks a tree-lined green. There, the basement is being modified at the rear of the house.
At number 1, the original front door was moved from the front of the terrace to the side of the house to create three separate entrances. This, along with the stairs from the basement to the main floor which were removed, could be replaced. With so many original features such as cornicing, fireplaces, stained glass, tripartite Wyatt windows, shutters and servants' bells, it is very easy to see the original footprint.
Extending to approximately 420 sqm, the property has been in the Stephenson family for approximately 60 years. Dave Stephenson remembers the bohemian years when his late parents - Desmond, a brother of architect Sam Stephenson, and Nuala, both artists - entertained fellow thespians there. "Our father, a prolific painter, grew up with Brendan Behan, pictured right, who was a fairly regular visitor. Dad did portraits of him as well as of Eamon de Valera and Siobhan McKenna."
That creative spirit lives on in the Stephenson siblings: Dave, photographer and a film maker; Isobel, a well-known film editor; and Susie who works in fashion. Dave and Susie, along with their cousin Mark Granier, a poet, currently live in the apartments.
The lower ground floor apartment comprises of entrance hall, sitting room, kitchen, three bedrooms, main bathroom and WC, with access to the rear courtyard area. The second apartment is mainly over the first floor and a return and has an entrance hall, drawing room, kitchen, utility, three bedrooms and a bathroom, with access to the rear garden. Laid out over the second floor and two returns, the third apartment consists of an entrance hall, kitchen/dining room, drawing room, three double bedrooms and bathroom.
Ornamental coving on the second floor landing depicts figurines typical of the late Georgian/early Victorian era. Access to the generous wrap-around gardens is by a doorway to an external granite staircase with wrought-iron handrail at entrance level and a doorway at garden level. Constituting a good example of mid-19th Century domestic architecture with much of its historic fabric remaining intact, the house is begging for a return to splendour as a family residence.
While Dave recalls cows walking up the road 30 years ago, and Susie talks of swimming in the sea at Blackrock, the area has developed substantially over the decades and has many amenities (see panel above).
It would make a fine single family home but will also appeal to investors, says Louise Kelly of Savills. The Stephensons admit it will be a wrench to leave the remarkable house they grew up in, but the time has come to write a new chapter in its colourful history.
1 Avoca Terrace, Blackrock, Co Dublin
Asking price: €1.75m
Agent: Savills South Dublin (01) 288 5011
Viewing: By appointment only