Sir Shafto Adair commissioned this Scottish Baronial gate lodge at the entrance to the 17 acre People’s Park in Ballymena in 1870. It is very similar to the lodge designed by Lanyon Lynn & Lanyon for Belfast Castle at the same time and was probably designed by the same practice.
The lodge is built of local basalt with tall crowstep gables topped by ball finials and with dressings and escutcheons in red sandstone. The largest of these refers to Ballymena’s title as the “city of seven towers”. Sadly all but three have now gone, but they were Ballymena Castle (Sir Shafto’s own residence), the old Town Hall, the chimney of Braid Spinning Mill and the tower of the First Ballymena Presbyterian Church. Those remaining are the old Parish Church, All Saints Catholic church and St Patrick’s Church of Ireland church. On one gable hangs the bell which would have been rung to mark closing time of the Park.
Ballymena Borough Council had carried out improvements to the lodge in the 1990s but it lay vacant for a number of years and a leak developed that led to a very extensive outbreak of dry rot. Hearth was approached to see if it would be interested in taking a long lease on the property to tackle the rot and enable the building to be let once more. The restoration was carried out in two phases, firstly while the building was still in Council ownership to cut out the rot and enable the building to dry out, and secondly to install services and reinstate affected joinery.