Warehouse, built c.1799 for Thomas Parr. Internally remodelled in the late C19 or early C20, and converted to flats in the second half of the 1990s. The building is currently (2007) used for student accommodation.
EXTERIOR: Brick with ashlar dressings; roof of Welsh slate. Five storeys over a high basement, now blocked due to a rise in street levels. Seven bays to south elevation; three bays to west and east; the north elevation largely obscured by later adjoining buildings. Stone eaves cornice. Windows have ashlar wedge-shaped lintels and stone sills. South elevation has pediment (now rendered) over central three bays, and stone eaves cornice. The central bay, of which the top opening is arched, originally contained taking-in doors; this had been blocked by 1995, but was unblocked during the work of the latter part of the 1990s, and filled with metal-framed windows, each one stretching the full height of a storey. The westernmost bay of windows remains blocked, with circular ventilation holes. At ground-floor level in this bay, the present entrance, with arched stone lintel. In the other bays, a series of lintels were visible in 1995, marking blocked basement windows; these have been removed since 1995 and filled with brick. West elevation: windows of south bay have been replaced by smaller early-C20 openings which give light to an inserted stairwell. The arched central bay, which still contained taking-in doors in 1995, was given a similar treatment to that in the south elevation in the latter part of the 1990s. The eastern elevation faces a small walled yard, closed to east by the southern wing of the house. The pediment of this elevation contains a lunette, open in 1995, but now blocked. The windows of the southern bay, which had been replaced by door openings serving a fire escape, were reinstated in the 1990s and the fire escape removed.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: The warehouse stands behind a large house (26 Colquitt Street, also listed), built at about the same time, also for Parr. The southern wing of the house was originally used as a counting house; an arched passage from the lower basement floor of the counting house to the basement floor of the warehouse is now blocked at the warehouse end. The house was the Liverpool Royal Institution from 1817-1948, and a C19 range of lecture halls stands to the north of the warehouse and west of the house. A late-C19, three-storey extension fills the space, formerly a courtyard, between the warehouse and the lecture halls.
The warehouse was built for Thomas Parr (1769-1847), a wealthy Liverpool merchant and banker. He leased the land in Colquitt Street on which he built his magnificent house, and warehouse, in 1797. The house is flanked by pavilions, the northern one having been built as a coach house, and the southern as a counting house. A railed garden and pleasure grounds, with a large pond, lay on the east side of Colquitt Street. J. A. Picton's late nineteenth-century Memorials of Liverpool describes the complex as 'one of the best extant examples of the establishment of a first-class Liverpool merchant of the period'.
Parr owned the massive ship 'Parr', equipped to carry seven hundred slaves, which sailed for the Niger Delta in 1798. The vessel is reported to have exploded off the west coast of Africa in that same year, an indication that it may have been carrying gunpowder to exchange for enslaved Africans. Evidence relating to Parr's business interests suggests that the warehouse behind his house may have been used to store iron. Iron goods were taken to Africa, where they were used to purchase the slaves with whom the ships were then filled. Other iron goods, such as the shackles with which slave ships were fitted, were also necessary to the slave trade.
By 1805 Parr had retired to Lythwood Hall in Shropshire, where he lived the life of a country gentleman and formed a notable collection of coins. Charles Darwin, who encountered him in 1840, described him as 'an old miserly squire'.
In 1817 the Colquitt Street house became the home of the Liverpool Royal Institution, and from this time the warehouse was let separately. The Institution was established in 1814 by Liverpool merchants, many of them linked with slavery, but the driving force behind its formation was William Roscoe, a passionate abolitionist. Roscoe's collection of Florentine paintings, which were once housed in Colquitt Street, are now in the Walker Art Gallery.
RCHME Historic Building Report, The Royal Institution, Colquitt Street, Liverpool, November 1995; Joseph Sharples, Liverpool (2004)
Pevsner; J. A. Picton, Memorials of Liverpool, 2 vols (1873, 1875), vol 2, pp. 142, 279
http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk accessed on 6 October 2007
'Billinge's Liverpool Advertiser and Marine Intelligencer', 5 January 1795
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
57 Parr Street is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Rare surviving warehouse of c.1799; its elegant and functional design can still be appreciated despite alterations
* Group value with 26 Colquitt Street, with which it forms one of the earliest remaining residence/warehouse complexes once characteristic of this area of Liverpool
* Association with Thomas Parr, a prominent Liverpool merchant connected with the slave trade, adds to historical interest of building. This amendment is written in 2007, the bicentenary year of the 1807 Abolition Act.