Tommy Barker views a property that offers the best of both worlds.
Probably the best…
CARLSBERG don’t do house sales.
But if they did, they just might come up with Sunville.
Envy is a sin, not to mention jealousy and covetousness, but be prepared to err on all three counts when you enter Sunville.
A former Cork city planner once joked that people in Cork didn’t want too much. They’d be happy, he suggested, with a house just off St Patrick Street, with private gardens and a sea view.
Sunville isn’t quite that. It’s more.
Period house? Check.
Modern comfort? Check.
Award-winning architecture? Check.
Space? Light? Check and check again.
Views? Sure, river and harbour.
Privacy? Oh yes.
Location? Just a stroll to St Patrick Street, core of the European City of Culture. It’s Cork, like. Old Cork.
Needing work? Nope.
Affordable? Well, you can’t have everything.
Extolling Sunvlle’s virtues would take pages, and even with the superlatives exhausted and Denis Scannell’s skills behind the lens stretched, the impression conveyed would still be flat in comparison to the reality.
Sunville is generous with its charms, spreading them out over three levels and about 7,000 sq ft of living space and home office potential.
Its original core dates to the early 1800s, but it has been added to and enhanced down the years, with features like its added-on wrought iron balcony across the main reception rooms. In the 1990s, it was extended again, when architects Gerard Kennedy and John Hegarty did separate commissions.
It is hard to find a flaw with this highly desirable Cork house, apart from the fact that only one individual or family is going to end up living here.
Tom Woodward has the sale of Sunville. He has the pleasure of leading viewings, and he’ll have to sort out the final bids and console distraught under-bidders - of which there’ll be many.
He guides it at €1.8 million - surely on the low side given its rarity, strong architectural forms, location and condition.
It has had all the hard work done to it, painstakingly so. It has been structurally secured, re-roofed with slate, its sash windows have been restored, Ventrolla-ed and replaced with matching windows where required. It has damp proofing and is reassuringly dry, is heated by a zoned heating system with original fireplaces as a more than a decorative back-up, and the decor is assured and appropriate to each room and section’s period.
Woodward’s sales brochure says Sunville is “one of the finest residences to be offered for sale in Cork for some time.” If they have used the phrase before (and they have) it is earned here.
Sunville’s discrete glories start from the electronically/intercom controlled access gate and continue as you pass through the timeless parterre garden and flagstone entrance buffer before getting to the fan-lit front door and sheltering porch.
The house’s mid-level reception rooms are timepieces with appealing architectural detailing, such as cornice work, fireplaces, architraves, even down to door handles and brass catches.
Windows here are lofty, tall enough to get through if necessary to access the ornamental wrought iron balcony beyond. The balcony also has full access points from the sun room and kitchen; it is a great party circulation area.
The kitchen is a modern bright space with light-wells in the ceiling, units and island in pale maple with a contrasting red-painted larder press, and oak floor.
The lower level (with under-floor heating) is most modern of all, done up as a series of home offices but in reality, a multi-use space, with patio access and independent as well as internal access. There’s also a very large 28ft by 24ft games room, with enough space for both a full-size snooker table and tennis table, store rooms and service rooms to hold the central vacuum system and heating boiler. The house’s early 1800s antiquity is recalled by the domed coal stores and wine cellars serving the basement.
The terraced gardens with a southerly aspect are magnificent, with lawns, old sandstone walling, pedestrian access to Summerhill north, and trees include weeping ash, magnolia, laburnum and fig.
The accommodation space lessens as you rise through the house, so the top floor has four bedrooms in all. The master bedroom is the best of the bunch, and the main bathroom has a cast iron bath long enough to swim in.
Whoever gets their hands on Sunville can consider it for their next stroke.
Here comes the sun
By Tommy Barker,
SUNVILLE is a house that will leave almost any other in the shade.
The period home with a modern take, and award-winning extension, is on Wellington Road at St Luke’s Cross overlooking Cork city, the Lee and the Marina, but is screened behind high walls and private entrances.
In every sense, it is a hidden treasure, deserving of superlatives and accolades. There’s little doubt it is one of the very finest houses around, and it can compared with its rivals in any other Irish city. So its €1.8 million guide price may, in reality, only be a starting point when the really big guns come out all bids ablaze.
Sunville has immense appeal and its architectural integrity was respected and
enhanced during renovations and extension. The result is a large family home
Those contrasts include a very sizeable and impeccable Georgian block at its centre, with period features in abundance, with a clearly differentiated modern extension with contemporary finishes: there’s around 7,000 sq ft of living space over three floors.
The other contrast is its urban setting, but almost country house feel, seclusion and character.
St Patrick’s Bridge and the city centre is a 10-15 minute walk, the few minutes’ difference in strolling time is accounted for by the elevated setting.
It has up to a third of an acre of private grounds, with formal parterre gardens with box hedging, lavender and sentinel yews separating it from Wellington Road and giving it breathing distance.
It has mature and clearly cared for terraced lawns and a patio to the south: a two-tiered cedarlan deck has been carefully slotted in around the branches of an old weeping ash beyond the kitchen, for example, and this deck and steps help to link the main living areas with the converted series of basement rooms - which include thoroughly contemporary home office rooms, snooker and games room, and study.
Sunville hits the market this week with Woodward auctioneers, and agent Tom Woodward extols its charm, location, condition and space - and describes the e1.8 million guide as “fair”.
Buyers will include the likely suspects of affluent professionals, the medics and lawyers, but, in truth, the net will be cast very wide here: chances to buy homes of this calibre, with all the work done and finished to an admirable standard, are rare.
There’s scope for professional office use at the lower level, with separate access. There’s garage parking for two cars off the street, and this garage has mews conversion potential.
The main reception rooms are all south-facing, with tall sash windows and views beyond, and take in a 25’ by 16’ drawing room, a dining room with a sunroom off it, a large 23’ by 19’ kitchen and dining room with Wishbone kitchen.
The hall, staircase and landing overlook the parterre garden, and the first
floor has four bedrooms, master with en suite and dressing room, plus main bathroom.