SIR – An Taisce is appalled by the damage caused to Vernon Mount, Cork, in a serious fire last week.
An Taisce had written, in June, to the owner seeking that they donate the house and lands to Cork County Council, so that the Council could protect the house from further deterioration and allow the surrounding grounds become a public amenity.
The serious fire damage to Vernon Mount, Cork, highlights the continuing failure of Irish planning legislation to enforce the maintenance of legally-protected historic buildings. This is further highlighted by the burning of Belcamp in Fingal last month.
Vernon Mount is a sophisticated late 18th century villa of unique geometric design with a curved facade. It was reputedly named after George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
The house is beautifully sited on a hill to the south of Cork City. Its interiors include painted wall and ceiling decoration of classical figures by Cork artist Nathaniel Grogan, an elegant sweeping staircase in a curved bow and columned lobby at first floor level.
The house was acquired by San Diego-based Irish developer Jonathan Moss and left in a progressively neglected state over many years, suffering repeated damage and break-ins.
Cork County Council had intervened to carry out roof repairs, but only a few weeks ago local residents had raised concern at the continuing failure to secure the building.
Immediate action is required to protect the house from further deterioration, and for Cork County Council to initiate a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on the house and grounds.
Vernon Mount and Belcamp are part of An Taisce’s Building at Risk Project of the most significant structures at risk in Ireland.
The Buildings at Risk Register is an unfunded project by An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland supported and maintained by its voluntary members.
The Buildings at Risk Register was put in place in response to a concern at the growing number of structures that are vacant and falling into a state of disrepair.
The Register provides information on structures of architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest throughout the country that are considered to be at risk.
An Taisce, Dublin 8.