Belles of St Mary’s ready for conversion

Until recently these two large houses formed a conjoined convent for the Holy Faith Sisters on St Mary’s Road in Dublin 4. They have now been returned to standalone use, and with a lot of work will make expansive family homes

Thu, Sep 26, 2013, 00:00

Most disused convents are a hard sell – vast, in poor condition and difficult to imagine what they might be good for. Not so the home of the Holy Faith Sisters on Haddington Road in Dublin 4. Until a few a weeks ago, their convent was a pair of fine period houses on St Mary’s Road in Ballsbridge, so not quite the traditional image of an echoey and imposing institutional building.

A single-storey red-brick chapel sat in the wide strip of garden between the two houses and they were connected to each other by it and a warren of extensions at the rear. But now the nuns are moving.

They have built a smart-looking, modern convent on a parcel of land behind their houses and numbers four and six St Mary’s Road are for sale, separately, through Savills for €1.2 million and €1.3 million.

In preparation for the sale the builders have been in – not to do up the Victorian houses but to restore them to their original detached configuration which mainly entailed demolishing the nuns’ chapel and reinstating boundary walls. Also, to give an indication of what these houses might be like as family homes they did some work on the interiors, taking away the partitions that divided most of the very large reception rooms and bedrooms and generally stripping the houses back.

Whoever buys either of these houses will need deep pockets and the stomach for a major renovation because it’s clear that they need everything to bring them back to what they once were – large family houses.

While they look similar from the outside – both are two storey, double fronted, red-bricks – they are different in terms of size and internal layout.

Number 6
Number six is probably the older house of the two. It’s larger at 310sq m (3,341sq ft) and it’s on the corner of St Mary’s Road and Haddington Place, so there is pedestrian access from the side too.

At hall level three fine reception rooms are square-shaped, with high ceilings, tall windows and the original decorative plasterwork mostly intact.

There’s a study, a kitchen and upstairs, five bedrooms. New owners will almost certainly look to extend at the with either a single storey or two storey extension to make space for a large modern kitchen and upstairs bathrooms. You can see the new convent from the rear windows.

The asking price for number six is €1.3 million.

Number 4
Number four has 264sq m (2,845sq ft) and a less symmetrical interior layout.

On either side of the hallway are two very large reception rooms, there’s a kitchen at the back and six bedrooms upstairs, as well as a basic bathroom. This house has a two-storey extension at the rear.

Both houses are set back from the road behind black railings and both have large gardens on either side and at the back so there’s room – subject to planning permission – for large extensions and off street parking.

While this house is smaller than its neighbour it is, arguably on a more attractive site, with a better aspect from the rear and a sheltered side garden. The asking price for number four is €1.2 million.

Houses in such poor condition pegged at over the million mark are unusual in this market – even for houses in Ballsbridge. A house across the road from these two recently sold for €950,000 and it too needs work. But it is semi-detached and with much smaller gardens.

Both numbers four and six St Mary’s Road have significant room to expand, to the rear and the side, and as they have been so comprehensively stripped back, new owners will immediately have a clear idea what they’re getting into. When the renovations are done, they will make fine family homes, in a top Ballsbridge location.

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