Posted on 7 November 2013
Derby's historic St Helen's House has won a national award for its restoration, being hailed as "one of the finest 18th century townhouses to survive in a provincial city".
The building, now the home of accountancy firm Smith Cooper, lay derelict for years before being brought back into use by developer Richard Blunt.
Now it has won the "re-use of a building" category at the 2013 Georgian Group Architectural Awards, sponsored by Savills.
The award was announced in a prestigious ceremony in London, at which 75 of Britain's best Georgian buildings vied for honours, including Lord Lloyd Webber's Theatre Royal in Drury Lane.
The scheme to restore grade one-listed St Helen's House was drawn up by Lichfield-based architects Brownhill Hayward Brown for Mr Blunt.
Judges at the awards ceremony at Christie's auction house said of St Helen's House: "Built in 1766, this is one of the finest 18th century townhouses to survive in a provincial city.
"In educational use between 1860 and 2004, the house was bought in 2006 and has since been fully restored by Richard Blunt who has won two Georgian House Awards over the last ten years."
English Heritage recently removed the building from its Heritage At Risk Register after it was brought back into use as the Derby offices of accountancy firm Smith Cooper earlier this year.
English Heritage says the building now has a "long and productive" future ahead.
It is the site of a blue plaque commemorating Derby bridge builder William Strutt and anti-slavery campaigner the Rev Thomas Gisbourne, who both lived there.
Andrew Delve, managing partner of Smith Cooper, said: "As a firm, we are dedicated to the development of Derby and it is this tie with the city that led us to make such an incredible and historical building our office. We are in a traditional sector but are innovative within the field, and we wanted to reflect this with our choice of building."
"I would like to thank both Richard Blunt and Derby City Council for their hard work and support, and we hope people who come to our office or pass by see the plaque and recognise our building's important cultural contribution to Derby."