Life Homes

Thursday 21 August 2014

The one-million mark-up

A unique 1930s Art Deco eagles nest on the Howth Peninsula was designed by the man who built the banks

Mark Keenan

Published 04/04/2014 | 02:30

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Art Deco house "Windgate" on Windgate road, Howth.
An interior shot of "Windgate" on Windgate Road, Howth.
RNLI Lifeboats from Howth,DunLaoghaire and Skerries lifeboat stations came together at the Baily lighthouse showing the lifeboats currently in operation around Dublin Bay. Kenneth O Halloran

SAM Andrews is so confident in the attractions and qualities of her 1930s Art Deco home at Howth in North County Dublin that she's just added a cool million to the asking price.

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Just like that.

In what is probably Ireland's first €1m price mark up since the crash, Mrs Andrews took "Windgate" at Windgate Road on the Howth Peninsula off the market after a just few weeks in the Autumn when she had it priced at €3m and this week she's just returned it for sale through Finnegan Menton with a new tag of €4m.

While there's no doubting the strength of the Dublin market just now, how does she justify the hike?

"When I first saw this house in 1982 I fell madly in love with it and I decided it was the house for me. I was determined to live here. The exact same thing will happen to the next buyer. So you could say I'm waiting for another me to arrive," says Sam.

"The market has picked up considerably since I first considered selling and this house truly is unique. I'm quite sure a determined buyer will be willing to pay what I believe the property is worth."

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Sam continues the pitch: "The architecture is timeless, the views are unmatched and its gardens are made up of lots of little warrens which are perfect for a family of children to grow up in."

The Andrews saw their four girls grow up in an idyllic adventure playground which still has an impressive war era wendy house in the 1.4 acres of gardens which are stuffed with magnolias, rhododendrons, heathers, gorse, and fuschias.

There's a good degree of truth to claims that this house is out on its own – on a raised eagle's nest perch and with extraordinary views over the sea from the Bailey Lighthouse to Dun Laoghaire and Dalkey, it has a huge expanse of glass designed also to let the light flow in. All of it was replaced with double glazing and insulated back in 2000.

There are four reception rooms, seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms and a large family kitchen – all part of a spread which accounts for 4,850 sq ft – or more than four times the size of an average Irish semi. We can imagine its designer and builder Toby Millar sitting out proud on the substantial outdoor viewing balcony off the upstairs living area.

There's also separate self-contained guest accommodation in the grounds which includes a bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen. The house is within walking distance of the Howth Summit and is in an area which seems particularly popular with stockbrokers.

"The light up here is different on every single day. It's one of the biggest attractions about living up here on Windgate Road," says Sam.

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It also helps that the house has been built in a German Art Deco design of the inter war years which is relatively rare in Ireland and has retained its market appeal.

Windgate owes its existence to the aforementioned Dublin based architect Toby Millar who built it for himself and his family. They lived in one floor for a time and he constructed the next as the resources became available. The house dates from 1935 when it would certainly have been Dublin's most architecturally swish abode of note – just before a certain Michael Scott got Geragh, his renowned international design house completed two years later right across the Bay at Sandycove.

In his professional epitaph, Millar is rather limply credited with having designed "a series of strong rooms and safe deposit vaults of a unique type."

This is because generations of Millars were responsible for designing and supervising the construction of Bank of Ireland banks and pretty much nothing else.

In 1879 architect Richard Chayton Millar was appointed to the position of architect to the expanding Bank of Ireland and so he set off around the country building branch offices in provincial towns.

He was succeeded in the job in 1907 by his son Adam Gerald Chayton Millar (apart from a time after Adam was declared bankrupt in 1910).

Adam was again succeeded in turn by his son Herbert Vivian Millar (Toby) who continued building Bank of Irelands until his early death in 1956.

While architects have long been known to exert every sinew of their talents into their own personal abodes (they're also their penultimate professional showcases), Windgate must have provided a truly refreshing break out for Toby Millar.

Because, despite being a talented architect of note, he got to design pretty much nothing but banks and strongrooms – and only Bank of Ireland banks and strongrooms at that.

Outside of Windgate and some work for Dublin Zoo, Toby's professional life was pretty much bankety bank. So it's not surprisingly then when it came to Windgate, he gave it socks.

So proud are his family of it that members of the family were back to visit recently and his daughter made a present to Sam of a watercolour painting that Millar senior had made of his son's creation.

Further information is available from Finnegan Menton (01-6147900). If you're a wealthy overseas based retiree looking for something special to return to in Dublin, you'd better move fast – or Sam might just add another million.

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