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1875 – St. Mary’s Hall, Belfast, Co. Antrim

Architect: Alexander Macalister

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The design was chosen as a result of an architectural competition. St Mary’s Catholic Hall was used for concerts and dances, and also included a primary school until 1901. It was demolished in 1990.

“The site of this building is in Bank-lane immediately adjoining the Provincial Bank of Ireland. It has a frontage of 110 feet in Bank-lane. In fixing the frontage line the architect proposed to widen Bank-lane at its narrowest part by 10 feet, thereby improving the site very considerably. The design of the front shows three storeys – the materials being brick with stone dressings. Brick pilasters with stone bases and capitals stand out in bold relied and support segmental arches with key-stones, surmounted by a stone cornice and perforated parapet.

The ground floor contains two spacious entrance-halls and staircases leading to the different portions of the upper storeys. A cloak-room and ticket-office is provided at each entrance, and in the rere are suitable apartments for a caretaker. But the chief feature of the building is two spacious schoolrooms, male and female, capable of accommodating 500 children. Separate entrance doors and porches, with spacious yard and other accommodations, are provided for these schools.

The first storey contains a minor hall 54 feet by 20; a library and a reading room 34 feet by 20; a billiard room for two tables, 52 feet by 20; a retiring-room for use of great hall over; and a large kitchen, with lavatories, water-closets etc. A corridor in the centre of this floor afford separate entrance to each apartment.

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The second floor is entirely devoted to the great hall and is approached by two main stairs, each 6 feet wide – one at each end of the buildings. The hall is provided with a platform and a balcony – a retiring room with private stair being attached to the former. The dimensions of the hall are 105 feet by 48 feet inclear. The ceilings is 36 feet in height; it is arched and divided into panels with central flowers. The stiles have galoche enrichments with patterns at intersections. Underneath ceiling is a bold entablature, with moulded dentils to cornice, supported by fluted pilasters with Corinthian capitals. The street front of the building is to be protected by a stone plinth with ornamental wrought-iron railings, having a gate opposite each door. The works are being carried out from the designs, and under the superintendence of Mr. Alexander McAlister, architect, Belfast. Mr. James Ross, of Belfast, is the contractor. Amount of contract, 7,500.” Published in The Building News, July 15 1874.