A major fire has devastated the former house of the famous architect John Roberts in the inner city of Waterford last night. The blaze, which was reported around midnight, did destroy much of the old three-storey building on Cathedral Square, opposite Christchurch Cathedral, right in centre of the most ancient part of the city. The old Roberts-House, which bears a blue plaque in memory of Waterford's great architect, has stood empty for some time, as the area is due for re-development. The adjacent buildings to the left and right are also unoccupied at the present time and might have received some minor damage.
Three units of Waterford City Fire Brigade attended the scene and brought the fire under control. There has been no damage to Christchurch Cathedral, but the Fire Brigade cordoned off the area for the time being and will keep a watch in place, to prevent the fire from reigniting.
The burned-out building used to be the family home of John Roberts (1712-1796), who during the 18th century designed and built most of Waterford's famous landmark buildings, such as City Hall and Theatre Royal, the Bishop's Palace (now motor tax office), the house of William Morris (now seat of the Chamber of Commerce), and of course (the Anglican) Christchurch Cathedral and the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Waterford, Ireland's oldest city, is indeed the only place in the world where the same architect designed and built two cathedrals (using different styles) for different religious faith communities.
Last night's blaze, whose cause is at this time unknown, was the second major fire in Waterford's inner city in less than three weeks. On the 6th of the month an even larger and more devastating fire had engulfed and destroyed a commercial building on Thomas Street. (for details see my entry from March 6th)
The Emerald Islander