Thursday, 20 February 2020

Finding the architect of
the Church of Ireland
Theological Institute

The Church of Ireland Theological College … designed by George Palmer Beater (1850-1928) as the Fetherstonhaugh Convalescent Home for the Adelaide Hospital (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Working at the kitchen table in the rectory in Askeaton this morning, with the sun bathing the garden lawn and streaming in through the window and, I was reminded of many early mornings like that working in the study I had for many years in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute in Dublin.

In my first years on the staff of what was then the Church of Ireland Theological College, I had a room in the new building that designed as the student residential block.

But when the premises were refurbished, I moved into a very fine room upstairs in the original building, looking out onto the lawn and facing the morning sunrise.

I was on the staff of CITI or CITC, first as a part-time lecturer from 2002, and then as a full-time lecturer from 2006 until I moved to west Limerick in 2017. But it was only in recent weeks that I realised the architect of the main building at CITI was George Palmer Beater (1850-1928), an important church architect at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

George Palmer Beater was born in Dublin on 16 June 1850, the son of Orlando L Beater (1817-1908) and Abigail née Palmer (1824-1891). His father was chairman of Arnott’s and the family lived at Glenarm, Terenure Road East.

He was educated in Dublin and articled to the architect Alfred Gresham Jones (1824-1915), who also designed many churches, including Grosvenor Road Baptist Church and Athlone Methodist Church.

Beater designed the Fetherstonhaugh Convalescent Home for the Adelaide Hospital in 1894. This former convalescent home is now the main redbrick CITI building, with the chapel, lecture and seminar rooms, offices and the rooms of the academic staff.

The former convalescent home … now the main redbrick CITI building (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

His other works include: a new entrance porch for the former Nelson Monument (Nelson’s Pillar) on O’Connell Street, Baptist churches on Harcourt Street and North Circular Road, Dublin, Cork Baptist Church, the former Baptist Church in Limerick, the Slievemore Hotel, Dugort, Achill Island, Co Mayo, for the trustees of the Achill Mission Estate, the Dublin Medical Mission on Chancery Place, the Presbyterian church hall in Rathgar, the façade of Merrion Hall (now the Davenport Hotel), first built by Alfred Gresham Jones in 1863, and Northumberland Hall (now Dun Laoghaire Evangelical Church) for the Plymouth Brethren, the YMCA in Rathmines, Woolworth in Henry Street, and the Northern Bank in Bray, Co Wicklow.

Beater also designed much of the work on Arnott’s premises in Henry Street, Dublin, many of the premises rebuilt on Sackville Street (O’Connell Street), Dublin, after the 1916 Rising, and some of the houses on Grosvenor Road, Rathmines.

He was the architect of the Elvery’s Building on O’Connell Street, and many extensions to both the Adelaide Hospital and Stewart’s Hospital.

In recent years, there has been much interest in his work on the Mill Street Schools and Mission Buildings complex at 10 Mill Street, Dublin 8. When this early 18th century, five-bay building was acquired by the Irish Church Missions in 1891, Beater was commissioned to remodel it as part of the Mill Street Schools and Mission Buildings. His work included building a buttressed porch in place of the door-case and reconstructing the top floor with a conventional hipped roof centring on a corbelled gable. The building has been carefully restored in recent years and is now in use as offices.

He worked from offices at 3 Molesworth Street (1873), Liverpool & London Chambers, Foster Place (1874), 17 Sackville Street Lower (1874-1882, 1886-1915), 57 Dawson Street (1883-1886), and 10 Leinster Street (1916-1926).

The Church of Ireland Theological Institute ... Beater was living at Glenarm, Terenure Road, Rathgar, when he designed the former convalescent home (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Beater was married twice. In 1880, he married Isabel Stokes, daughter of William James Stokes, of Dublin, and they were the parents of one son, Leslie Orlando Beater. Isabel died 28 January 1882 and she was buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery.

Beater married his second wife, Constance Perry, in 1896. She was the daughter of R Middleton Perry, JP, of 73 Leinster Road, Rathmines. Her sister, Annette Marion Perry, was secretary of the Zenana Bible and Medical Mission. George and Constance were the parents of two daughters and one son, George Perry, who died in infancy.

He was a member of the Architectural Association of Ireland (1899-1908), a member (1878) and a fellow (1919) of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (FRIAI), and a member of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (1898).

He was a member of Rathmines and Rathgar Town Council, supported many charities in Dublin and was a governor of the Royal Hospital, Dublin, the Old Men’s Home on Leeson Park, and the Protestant Orphanage at 57 Harold’s Cross Road.

Beater lived at 1 Rostrevor Terrace, Rathgar (1873-1879); St Helen’s, Highfield Road, Rathgar (1881-1882); Glenarm, Terenure Road, Rathgar (1883-1896); and Minore, St Kevin’s Park, Rathmines (1897-1928).

He died at 9 Brighton Road, Rathgar, the home of his brother, Dr Orlando Beater, on 8 February 1928, and was buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery with his first wife. His obituary in the Irish Builder described him as ‘a kindly, courteous gentleman, liked and respected by all who knew him.’

When his widow Constance Beater died on 23 March 1945 at 9 Rathdown Park, Terenure, she was buried at Friends’ Burial Ground, Temple Hill, Blackrock.

His brother, Dr Orlando Palmer Beater of Terenure Road, Rathgar, was a solicitor and a qualified but non-practising medical doctor and surgeon.

For many years, Dr Orlando Beater was a member of the board of Arnott’s and a director of the publishers and printers Cherry and Smalldridge, as well as a governor of the Royal Hospital for Incurables, Stewart’s Hospital and the Northbrook Home.

The student residential block at CITI (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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