Steel scion Charles Firth spared no expense on Riverdale House in 1872, with a massive oak and carved stone porch, a “ splendid ” living room, a large dining room, a “ noble ” staircase and a stained glass window.
It also had 15 rooms – nine described as “excellent” and six for servants – as well as a shed, greenhouse, woods and gardens.
The Graham Road house in Ranmoor was nothing but mail order magnate John George Graves’ ticket in 1901, when the electricity was installed.
He was particularly proud of the gardens and would have loved the view of Bingham Park – created by Sir John Bingham in 1911 – which may well have inspired him to develop Graves Park 15 years later.
The grandeur of the building came to an abrupt end in 1972 when it was subdivided to create offices for 20 companies. Woodchip wallpaper has made its appearance.
That period ended 48 years later in October, when it was taken over by Sheffield-based Dorsia Homes, run by John Holmes and Charles Tordoff.
Today, as eight high-end apartments, it returns to its residential roots.
Mr Holmes said he hoped it would be a project they could be proud of.
He added: “This is definitely one of my favorite jobs, it’s a chance to bring back some of the grandeur and honor the intentions of the original architect.”
Over 100 artisans will restore and renovate the Grade II listed building, which is made of sandstone, believed to have been quarried at Ranmoor, and features granite mullions and Welsh slates.
Already carpenters including Geoff Gray have spent weeks repairing rotten wooden fasciaes, every slate has been removed and hand cleaned, and the plumbing has kept roofers like Martin Flanaghan busy. Sheffield carpentry makers Des Marples have restored the original sash windows and plasterer Alan Wagstaff is one of many others plying their trade inside.
Mr Holmes praised the team’s expertise, which is expected to end in March 2022.
By then, Riverdale House will have a ‘Bond villain’ glass element leading up to one of the penthouse rooftop terraces. And the famous dining room, with original features intact, will be part of a three-bedroom duplex apartment.
Unfortunately, the burglars also showed interest, targeting the site five times and stealing lead from the roof and tools and prompting Dorsia to hire full-time security guards.
But the firm, with the help of conservation architect Simon Gedye and heritage consultants, had taken a ‘thoughtful’ approach that had found favor with English Heritage and Sheffield City Council, Mr Holmes said. .
And buyer interest was already high despite âzero marketingâ.
He added: âWe both live locally, I was married at Ranmoor Church. I love that we have restored items so it will be there for years to come. It’s good to be a part of this story. “