Why is Belfast City Council letting Wilmont House go to ruin?

Sharon Marks is campaigning to Save Wilmont House
Wilmont House is located within the grounds of Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon park in South Belfast. It is a grade B1 listed property which was built in 1859. The estate was formed in the mid 18th century by William Stewart. The Stewart’s were prominent farmers.
The house is 2 storey building comprising of red brick  with a three bay front and a balustraded porch. The house was designed by Thomas Jackson, a notable Belfast architect. The house has a false window which has been painted on the brick work above the porch to balance the facade composition.
The house was owned by James Bristow in the 19th century.  A carved stone roundel on the wall adjacent to the entrance of the house bears his initials “JB.” James Bristow worked as a banker and served as lord mayor of Belfast between 1786 and 1798.
The Bristows sold Wilmont House to Robert Henry Sturrock Reade in 1879. His son George Reade subsequently sold the house to Sir Thomas Dixon Bt.
Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon purchased Wilmont demesne in 1919. Both Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon had distinguished public careers serving as the first mayor and mayoress of Larne.
The current parkland now named after Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon comprises of134 acres and is host to international rose trials since 1964. A Japanese garden was added in 1991. Recreational facilities include a café, picnic benches children’s playpark, lawns and band concerts. Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon park is one of Belfast’s most popular parkland areas.
The house boasts a rich heritage with many distinguished visitors staying there Captain Scott, a famous Antarctic explorer was a guest during his visit to Belfast in 1904. In 1934, the house became he temporary residence of His Excellency the Governor of Northern Ireland when government house was damaged by fire. The Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Earl of Ulster was a guest in 1935 during Sir Thomas’s period as Lord Lieutenant. During the second world war, Wilmont House served as the Northern Ireland headquarters for the U.S. army.
Lady Dixon handed over Wilmont demesne to the Belfast city council in 1963, one year before she died. Her wishes were for her home and parkland to be used by the council “for the greatest good of the citizens of the City.” The house shortly afterwards opened as a home for the elderly and the grounds were opened to the public.
The nursing home closed in 1992 and the house has been used for occasional events and as offices for council staff. Since 2013 Wilmont House has lain derelict and is succumbing to the effects of years of neglect and nature.
Wilmont House has so much potential to be refurbished to its former glory and repurposed for the benefit of Belfast citizens as were the wishes of Lady Dixon.
Please sign the petition below to appeal to the Belfast City Council to fulfil its obligation to care for this beautiful historic building and honour the wishes of its former owners. If you live in Belfast you should also ask your local representative what they are doing to help save this important building.
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