History of Merville House

Located adjacent to Fosters Avenue and set in its own garden demesne, Merville House was built in mid-1700 for the Right Hon. Anthony Foster, Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer.

It is recorded that the gardens themselves extended to four acres with running streams. This country villa was later passed to his son, Sir John Foster, in 1778, and became one of many townhouses owned by the last Speaker of the Irish House of Commons.

In more recent history, Merville House was established as a riding school in 1938, which continued in operation until the 1950’s when the estate was acquired by UCD.

Merville House became home to the university’s Biochemistry and Pharmacology academic teaching and research until 2003 when the laboratory based activity was relocated to the state-of-the-art Conway Institute, in the heart of the UCD Science District.

Building Description

This Georgian style, two storey ‘country villa’ is accessed by a tree lined avenue which is complemented by the generous copse of trees, forming part of the modern campus amenities.

Merville House architectural features include an emphasis on symmetry, a partially hidden roof and the centrally located stairs and main entrance. The addition of a Doric porch on the ‘rear’ entrance occurred in a much later development.

Restoration Works

Under the supervision of Kavanagh Tuite Architects, the sensitive restoration of Merville House involved the painstaking repair of the original plasterwork, vaulted ceilings and building façade. The works also required the removal of laboratories and inappropriate building extensions, and include the introduction of universal access facilities to the period house. Elsewhere the retention of original granite arches within the stables now offer a glimpse of a time gone by.

Project Timeline

The generation of a master plan for the phased development of Merville was completed in 2001. The implementation of the first phase, incorporating the development of the west courtyard and the original stables, was completed by early 2003 and NovaUCD officially opened in October 2003.

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