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Coordinates: Greenbank House, is a Grade II*-listed building in Liverpool, England. It stands within the University of Liverpool's Greenbank Halls of Residence site, between Greenbank Road and Greenbank Lane.
The original house was built in the early eighteenth century on part of the Toxteth Park estate. In 1788, William Rathbone IV leased the family house and estate, which consisted of 24 acres of land, from the Earl of Sefton to serve as a country retreat for his young family.
Rathbone's Purchase of Property and Estate
The Rathbone family purchased the freehold of Greenbank House in 1809, the year of William Rathbone IV's death. Following his death his wife, Hannah Mary, in accordance with his wishes, made many and substantial alterations to the building. A large part was rebuilt in the Gothic Revival style and a cast-iron screen was added to the house to form a verandah and balcony. The American artist John James Audubon dined with the Rathbone family at Greenbank House during his visit to Liverpool in the 1820s.
Continued Use by Rathbone family
Some of the land had passed from Rathbone family control in 1897, when Liverpool Corporation entered into an agreement with the Rathbone Family to purchase the piece of land, part of which is now Greenbank Park.
Greenbank was occupied by Hugh Reynolds Rathbone and Emily Evelyn Rathbone in 1918 on the death of Emily Acheson Rathbone, widow of William Rathbone VI. Hugh Reynolds Rathbone had strong connections with the University of Liverpool, and towards the ends of their lives Hugh and Emily donated parts of the Greenbank estate to the University as a site for student accommodation. On this land, the University built Derby Hall, opened in 1939.
Bequeathed to the University of Liverpool
The house and remaining estate remained in Rathbone hands until the death of Hugh Reynolds Rathbone on 19 January 1940. Between 1939 and 1948 remaining parts of the estate were donated by Hugh and Emily's children. The house itself was requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1940, but in 1944 it too was donated to the University, originally for the purpose of housing students. It formed an annexe to Derby Hall until 1963-4, when it was converted for use as a student and staff social club. The club was managed by Gordon and Lilian Milne from 1964 until 1982 and underwent extensive renovations in 1968 when the house's upper level was converted from student accommodation to private living accommodation, a kitchen, bar, restaurant/cafe and function room for weddings and other social functions. The club stopped being a social club venue in 1987-88 and was eventually closed to the public, reverting to use as offices for Liverpool University administrative staff. The house is now no longer in use as office space and has remained derelict for some years. The house still belongs to the University but its future use is uncertain.
Blue Plaque Recognition
The property has been marked by an English Heritage Blue Plaque since 29 July 2001, which honours Eleanor Rathbone (1872–1946), suffragette and pioneer of the state-funded family allowance, and her father, social reformer William Rathbone VI (1819–1902), who created the first system of district nursing. The plaque was unveiled by William Rathbone X at Greenbank House.