Building Kevin Street: 1933 - 1950

While building at Iveagh Gardens continued, Trustees decided on a major expansion plan for the Kevin Street Estate that would eventually see a further 220 homes added by 1950 – doubling the size of the community there.

In 1933, “Block O” – a block of 20 self-contained dwellings, each with three rooms and a scullery/bathroom was erected, at a cost of £13,350. Designed by O’Callaghan and Webb of Dublin and built in red brick, the block was occupied in the same year and was the first addition to the Kevin Street Estate or indeed any of the Trust’s city centre complexes since the early 1900s.

In 1935 a site contiguous to the New Bride Street buildings – occupying the entire corner of Kevin Street Upper & New Bride Street, then known as Kevin Street Cross – was acquired from the Corporation for £11,000. Images commissioned by the Trust prior to demolition through well-known Dublin photographer Mason, tell the story of a dilapidated city quarter, crumbling courts and laneways. In all, c. 50 buildings across Hacket's Court, Leinster Row and Fearon's Court made up site with a hodge-podge of out buildings, sheds and yards splaying inward towards the centre.

During the period 1938 to 1949, 200 balconette flats, then something of a vogue, were built, each equipped with separate bathroom and kitchen. Eight ground-floor shops were included and two of the early blocks were provided with basement air-raid shelters. Messrs. O’Callaghan and Giron were appointed architects for the new development. Architecturally less ornamental than the original stock of Bull Alley & Kevin Street, the buildings appear to have been influenced by the vast and much-copied blocks of flats erected in Vienna and other continental cities in the 1920s & 30s.

For the first time, the Trust received some public financial support for the endeavour; £100 per flat from the government and £50 per flat from the Corporation, covering approximately one third of the total cost of £89,000. The familiar façade to Kevin Street and New Bride Street took shape over the course of 15 years as individual five-storeyed blocks were completed. The striking curved appearance only emerged with the completion of the final element of the scheme, Block Y in 1950 – tying the Kevin Street and New Bride Street blocks together to present a remarkable continuous elevation to the city that spans some 150 metres.

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