Number Twenty Nine Fitzwilliam Street was one of ten houses on Fitzwilliam Street Lower and on Mount Street Upper restored by the Electricity Supply Board in 1988.
The decision to restore these buildings had its historical roots in a commitment by the Board given to Dublin Corporation in 1977 that in return for the Corporation allowing Electricity Supply Board to exceed standard plot ratios in the construction of office blocks facing James Street East and Baggot Street Lower, it would undertake to refurbish these keys houses in its property portfolio.
Since its last occupation for domestic use, in or around 1916, the house had been vacant up until its purchase by the newly formed Electricity Supply Board in 1928. It was then used as offices for the organisation until the late 1980s.
The decision to use one of the ten houses as a Georgian House museum, grew from the fact that in 1988 as part of the Millenium celebrations in Dublin city, the National Museum had staged an exhibition of Georgian furniture, ceramics, glass, and costumes, in Number 39 Merrion Square, an Electricity Supply Board property. Before the opening of the Collins Barracks site the National Museum of Ireland had little space in which to display its fine collection of Irish decorative arts and furniture. The success of the Millenium exhibition spurred further co-operation, and the idea for Number Twenty Nine was born as a showcase for such material, inspired in part by Georgian house museums in Edinburgh and Bath.
The museum opened to the public in 1991 to celebrate Dublin's status as European Cultural Capital for that year. It is now run by Electricity Supply Board in association with the National Museum of Ireland as a museum of Dublin home life for the period 1790 to 1820, receiving over 400,000 visitors since its opening.
While much of the fabric of the original house has not survived, great care and consideration went into the development of the exhibition. Many original patterns have been used in the creation of features such as the fine wallpapers, carpets, and curtains, and considerable expertise was deployed in putting together the pieces of this historical jigsaw, and telling the previously untold story of middle class home life in a key period in the history of the nation and its capital.
The house has come alive again, and the building now plays host to a wide cross section of visitors, from Ireland, Europe, America, and beyond.