‘The House’ has Titanic feel and appeal

Steve Bartlett
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Titanic enthusiasts have offered a sizeable sum for the Ryan Mansion staircase.

It’s said to be made of the same wood and by the same craftsmen as the luxury liner’s grand staircase, and a co-owner of the stately property at the corner of Rennie’s Mill and Monkstown roads says some impressive pitches have been made by people wanting to relocate it.

“Like, sizeable enough (offers) to replace the staircase and pocket money,” says Kevin Nolan, who has taken advantage of the house’s features and turned it into a boutique hotel and spa.

Tempting as that might be, any such bids have been turned aside.

“You could never build that again,” Nolan says. “What would the house look like?”

Right now, it looks as impressive as James Ryan — a wealthy Newfoundland fish merchant and politician — wanted it to when he had it built in 1909-11.

“The House,” as the heritage structure was dubbed 100 years ago, was constructed around the same time as the Titanic, and Ryan used a lot of materials from Belfast, the Irish city where the ship was built.

Ryan shipped fish to the port and had materials sent back aboard empty vessels.

The staircase, made of oak, was among the cargo.

“It’s not an exact replica,” Nolan says. “It is the English white oak, and in some sense, if you listen to Robert Ballard (who discovered the Titanic wreck in 1985), it’s closer to what the staircase would be than in the movies.”

Ballard stayed at the Ryan Mansion a few years ago.

The explorer was fascinated with the staircase and, using a compass, found that the view out a window on the landing looks in the direction of the wreckage.

The property has other features thought to be similar to the ship’s decor, including a fireplace and some mouldings.

A Titanic dinner based on the ship’s menu was held at the Ryan Mansion during Ballard’s stay.

The meal has since become something of a tradition at the house and is served on replica Titanic china made by the same company that produced the ship’s dishes. An assortment of other artifacts have added to the Ryan Mansion’s Titanic ties.

The collection includes a signed photo with a personalized message from Millvina Dean, the last living survivor of the Titanic disaster.

She was nine weeks old at the time of the tragedy and died in 2009.

The house and its Titanic connection has also become a magnet for travel writers.

Nolan notes that Ballard signed their guest book, “Another great discovery.”


Twitter: @SteveBartlett_

Geographic location: Rennie, Monkstown, Newfoundland Belfast

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