Ollar Lodge Ballyclare
Sir Charles Brett, a former President of the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, identified Ollar Lodge as building of architectural merit.
Ollar Lodge is really a terrace of two-storey houses under a single roof. In his manuscript history Robert Grange describes what he had discovered about its origin: “ About the beginning of 1800 Thomas Alexander who owned the Fore Braes, Howe Fold and the other land in Le-Ballyclare, lived in Ollar Lodge in Main Street, just south of the river. Some years afterwards it was taken over by William Simpson, a solicitor and following him by Rev. Crooks, minister of the Congregational Church.
Ollar Lodge was separated in those days from Main Street by a row of iron railings which stood about seven feet high. In addition to the beautiful big weeping ash which stands in the centre of the garden today, there were two fine overhanging trees, one growing at each corner of the grounds, their wide branches stretching far out over the roadway. Here on hot summer days the ‘Ancients’ of the village would foregather under their shady branches to enjoy their smoke and afternoon gossip. They would lie, pipes between their teeth, arms folded, backs against the wall and feet outstretched on the ,cassie’, a look of contentment on every face and all at peace with the whole world.”
At the time of the coronation of Edward VII in 1902, Ollar Lodge was occupied by JC Beggs, the solicitor. “Christie, as he was always called by the villagers, entered wholeheartedly into the spirit of the celebrations and in addition to illuminating the many windows of the house, decorated the big weeping ash in the centre of his garden with light coloured Chinese lanterns, producing a most wonderful and fairy-like picture in the darkness.
For many years, the petty sessions court was held in an upstairs room at the southern end of the building. The court room ceased to be used in about 1930. Jimmy Todd lived in the house beneath the court room as a boy and he remembers it well. “All ceilings had elaborate cornices. A lot of tenants lived in the building after it was renovated when we left, but the courtroom was always separate and for many years Willie Rea carried on his business as a shoe-maker in it, and a pigeon club occupied it for some time.”