WHERE IS IT? Halfway along Mansionhouse Road, opposite the entrance to St. Helens Gardens.
One of Alexander Thomson’s more unusual and innovative designs, Maria Villa is, in fact, a double villa, and is often known as simply 'The Double Villa.'
Although they are two, when both buildings were built in 1857 they became collectively known as Maria Villa, possibly named after the wife of Henry Watson, a clothier whose family initially occupied one half of the property.
Rather than follow the usual design of having the front of the houses face the same way, one of the two has been turned 180° to give the impression of one house from either front or back, when in fact the entrance porches to each property are on opposite sides.
The unusual outside design was matched within, where Thomson experimented with what he dubbed an 'inside-out curtain wall,' along with a window behind the stone colonnade and the dining room. The downstairs dining room was adorned with a sun-ceiling, while the adjacent upstairs room held a moon ceiling.