Rose Cottage was built about 1862 as a cottage ornée in what was then very much open country on the southern outskirts of the town of Belfast. It was built for John Coyle of the Cromac Grocery and Spirit Store, on the line of one of the avenues or ‘passes’ through the Earl of Donegall’s estates.
As Belfast expanded, the cottage was rapidly surrounded by terraces of red-brick artisan dwellings, and its address became Coyle’s Place. Internally, it retained its spacious rooms and ornate plasterwork, but to the casual passer-by it had been thoroughly absorbed into its surroundings.
In the late 1970s, the N I Housing Executive identified the Donegall Pass environs as a redevelopment area, and many streets were vested for clearance, including Coyle’s Place. Local feeling about the cottage however was strong, and following representations by the local Residents’ Association and the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, Rose Cottage was listed, and Hearth offered to take on the restoration of the building. The Executive co-operated by redesigning the courtyard which was replacing Coyle’s Place and Walnut Street to incorporate the cottage, and the restoration was carried out in six months.
Disentangling the cottage from the buildings erected against it necessitated extensive reconstruction of the gable walls, while the back wall had been constructed of very soft brick that had to be replaced completely, but brick salvaged from nearby demolition was used for this and the original elevation has been replicated. An old entrance at the back, possibly built to house a pony and trap, was converted to a store, but otherwise the plan was unchanged and work consisted of restoring the damage caused by time and neglect. Vandals had stolen many of the slates from the roof so where possible removable items like balustrading were taken into store before work started, but much of the plasterwork had to be replaced in the course of the work.