Historic Cork villa selected for World Monuments Fund’s 100 Most Endangered Sites
Watch List 2008
Date: 7th June, 2007
Contact: Donough Cahill, Director Irish Georgian Society
Te: 01 6767053/086 8372086
Vernon Mount, situated near Cork and one of Ireland’s finest Georgian villas, has been selected for inclusion in the 2008 World Monuments Watch® List of 100 Most Endangered Sites, a list prepared every two years by the New York based World Monuments Fund – www.wmf.org.
The inclusion of Vernon Mount in the Watch List brings international recognition from the World Monuments Fund which works with communities around the world in supporting the protection of endangered sites and also attracts technical and financial resources to assist in their rescue.
Vernon Mount was nominated to the Watch List by the Irish Georgian Society in January 2007 due to its “desperate state of neglect” and the reluctance of its owners to maintain effectively or repair the building. Desmond FitzGerald, Knight of Glin, President of the Irish Georgian Society, welcomed the selection:
“Inclusion in the list of 100 Most Endangered Sites will draw international attention to the plight of Vernon Mount. It is deplorable that a building of this calibre can be allowed to deteriorate when there has never been a more favourable environment for the protection of our built heritage.”
Though it is protected through the Cork County Development Plan and the Planning Act, Vernon Mount has slipped into a decayed state over the last ten years. At a recent protest demonstration held by the Irish Georgian Society at Vernon Mount to highlight its condition, Desmond FitzGerald said:
“Vernon Mount has largely been left to the elements since planning permission for a big hotel was refused for the site in the late 1990s. Water has been entering the building through holes in the roof since late 2005 and, in spite of pressure from Cork County Council, it is only recently that stop gap repairs have been made.”
The Irish Georgian Society has repeatedly called for action on the part of the owners of Vernon Mount and Cork County Council to take action for its conservation and restoration. Donough Cahill, Deputy Director of the Society, said:
“The international recognition given to Vernon Mount by its inclusion in the List of 100 Most Endangered Sites must mean that action will now be taken. If nothing happens, it is likely that Ireland will lose one of its finest surviving 18th century domestic buildings.”
About Vernon Mount
Vernon Mount is one of Cork’s most important heritage buildings.
It is arguably the finest example surviving in Ireland of a Georgian classical villa, standing in its own 'pocket demesne' on the outskirts of a major city.
While the architect of Vernon Mount is unknown, it is distinguished for the curvilinear elegance and subtlety of its façade design and for the sophistication of its planning and decorative interiors.
The significance of Vernon Mount is enhanced by the presence of exceptionally fine neo-Classical paintings of classical mythological subjects by Nathaniel Grogan, an accomplished late 18th-century Cork artist and contemporary of the internationally-famous Cork artist James Barry.
Grogan's paintings are in oil on canvas and are mounted on the ceiling of the ground floor drawing room and as trompe l'oeil paintings on doors and niches in the first-floor oval vestibule.
In the late 1990s, a re-development proposal for Vernon Mount was refused permission by the planning authorities due to the adverse impact it would have on the house. Since that time, the building has been used occasionally by the Munster Motorcycle Club.
Following several years in which Vernon Mount had little or no maintenance, some limited efforts have been made in recent months to prevent the ingress of water into the building, with temporary repairs to its roof and wooden panels fixed over its smashed windows.
The Irish Georgian Society has had an interest in the plight of Vernon Mount for many years and recently nominated the building for inclusion to the World Monuments Fund 2008 Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites – a decision on this nomination is due shortly.
About the World Monuments Fund
The World Monuments Fund (WMF) is the foremost private, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of endangered architectural and cultural sites around the world. Since 1965, WMF has worked tirelessly to stem the loss of historic structures at more than 450 sites in over 80 countries.
Every two years, WMF issues its World Monuments Watch list of 100 Most Endangered Sites, a global call to action on behalf of sites in need of immediate intervention.
WMF's work spans a wide range of sites, including the vast temple complexes at Angkor, Cambodia; the historic centre of Mexico City; Nicholas Hawksmoor's London masterpiece, St. George's, Bloomsbury; the iconic modernist A. Conger Goodyear house, Old Westbury, New York; and the extraordinary 18th-century Qianlong Garden complex in Beijing's Forbidden City. In Ireland, the WMF assisted in the restoration of the Browne Clayton Monument in Wexford and is currently involved with Headfort, Co. Meath and the Wonderful Barn, Co. Kildare.
From its headquarters in New York City—and offices and affiliates in Paris, London, Madrid, and Lisbon—WMF works with local partners and communities to identify and save important heritage through innovative programs of project planning, fieldwork, advocacy, grant-making, education, and on-site training.
Irish Georgian Society
The Irish Georgian Society aims to encourage an interest in and to promote the preservation of distinguished examples of architecture and the allied arts of all periods in Ireland.
These objectives are achieved through a number of programmes, including promoting historical research, publishing an annual Journal, providing grant assistance for the conservation of historic buildings, lobbying for buildings at risk, and running education & outreach projects. We also provide an extensive events programme for members.
The Irish Georgian Society was founded in 1958 by the Hon. Desmond Guinness and his late wife, Mariga. Through their enthusiasm and commitment, and the dedication of its members and supporters, many buildings of outstanding architectural merit have been saved throughout Ireland.
The Society has an international membership of 2,800 members, with its headquarters in Dublin. It has lively Chapters in regional centres in Ireland including CORK, Limerick and Birr, and an active Chapter in London. The Society is also a thriving concern in the USA, with its headquarters in New York and regional Chapters in Chicago, Boston, and Akron-Cleveland.