FIRST TOWNHOUSE LAWN

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Tuam is a town in County Galway that has a rich and diverse history. One of its most unique and surprising attractions is the first townhouse with a lawn, located on Bishop Street. This townhouse, built in 1912, was designed by architect Anthony Scott, who decided to give it a front garden, something that was unheard of at the time. 

Before 1912, almost all the houses in Tuam were built right on to the footpath, without any space for a front garden. This was because having a lawn was considered to have a “dramatic effect on the streetscape”, according to historian John Cunningham. Having a lawn implied a certain status and wealth, as well as a desire for privacy and separation from the public sphere. It also required maintenance and care, which meant having access to water and labour. Therefore, having a lawn was not only uncommon, but also impractical and undesirable for most people in Tuam.

However, Anthony Scott, who was a prominent architect and engineer in Tuam, had a different vision. He wanted to create a townhouse that would stand out from the rest and reflect his own taste and style. He designed a two-storey house with a bay window, a porch, and a front garden enclosed by a low wall and iron railings. The garden had a lawn, flower beds, and shrubs, creating a contrast with the grey stone facade of the house. The house was also set back from the street, creating a sense of distance and distinction from the other houses.

The townhouse with a lawn was an instant sensation in Tuam. It attracted curiosity and admiration from the locals, who nicknamed it “Scott’s Folly”. It also sparked debate and controversy among some people, who saw it as a sign of pretension and snobbery. Some even accused Scott of wasting valuable space that could have been used for another house or shop. Scott himself was aware of the mixed reactions that his house provoked, but he did not seem to mind. He lived in the house until his death in 1940, enjoying his garden and his reputation as an innovator.

The townhouse with a lawn is more than just an architectural novelty. It is also a symbol of the social and cultural changes that were taking place in Tuam and Ireland in the early 20th century. The townhouse with a lawn represents the emergence of a new middle class, who had more disposable income and leisure time than before. It also reflects the influence of British and European trends, such as the Arts and Crafts movement and the Garden City movement, which promoted the idea of harmonious living between nature and urbanism. 

The townhouse with a lawn is still standing today, although it has undergone some modifications over the years. It is one of the most distinctive and historic buildings in Tuam, attracting visitors and locals alike. It is also a reminder of Anthony Scott’s legacy as an architect and engineer. The townhouse with a lawn is not just a house with a garden. It is a historic breakthrough that changed the face of Tuam forever.

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First Townhouse Lawn

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