The former poorhouse is Belfast’s oldest surviving complete building
Clifton House, formerly Clifton Street Poorhouse, is Belfast's oldest surviving complete building. Although the Dublin architect Thomas Cooley was consulted on the design for Belfast’s poorhouse in 1774, and drawings were prepared by the London architect Robert Mylne, the plans for the actual building were drawn up by the paper merchant and prominent Belfast citizen, Robert Joy.
Joy’s design replaced Mylne’s proposed dome and lantern with an octagonal stone tower and spire, rising from the centre of a brick building that mimics the form of a Palladian country house. With extensions and modernisations throughout the nineteenth century, the building came to enclose a central courtyard that had been a feature of Mylne’s original drawings.