Erasmus Smith School
Deaton Lysaght Architects converted the Erasmus Smith School into Tipperary County Council area offices. The two-roomed school, a Protected Structure under the County Development Plan, was erected in 1818, funded by the Erasmus Smith Trust. Smith was a Cromwellian adventurer who bequeathed his fortune for the furtherance of education. The school was designed by John Nash (1752-1835), the “architect royal”, under the patronage of the Earl of Glengall.
It served as a school until 1963 and was used since as a sawmill, steelworks, railway museum and warehouse. When surveyed, the interior had been removed and the building, which had been extended three times, suffered dampness, settlement and defective stonework. It was considered to be most economical to retain sections of the building, which although they are additions, are themselves of some merit, and to obviate conjectural restoration.
A tight budget of €1,250,000 was set. The work was informed by the architect's conservation plan. The entrance door was carved from oak, based on a pencil sketch of the original. A wooden faux stone-mullioned window above the entrance was restored. Accretions unworthy of retention were removed. A new extension, clearly distinguishable from the existing building, was constructed with a cedar-clad curved wall and pre-patinated copper roof. Buttresses were underpinned and re-built, stonework repaired, cleaned and selectively repointed. Defective roofs were re-slated. New services were carefully installed to avoid damage to historic fabric.
The client commented that the County Council wished “to conserve a striking and substantive piece of architecture from the past with the modern accessible and functional requirements of today’s public, including the provision to accommodate any future expansion requirements in a controlled and respectful manner. The restoration of the Erasmus Smith School building has reinforced the quality of the built environment of this unique heritage town.” She added that “from a functional viewpoint, the building works extremely well”.