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The recently restored Gatelodge in which the centre is housed was originally built as lodge to Richmond House - built in 1845 by the famous Derry Distiller David Watt. Watt died in 1876 and was buried in the grounds of St. Columb's Cathedral. The House was bought by shipping magnet Bartholamew Mc Corkell - who died in 1887 leaving the house to his wife Francis.
On her death in 1895 the house was passed on to her daughter Evelyn Mc Corkell (born 1851) who married Robert Corscadden from Boomhall but who had no children. After Roberts death in 1904 she commissioned the architect Sir Thomas Drew to design the new Chapterhouse for St. Columb's Cathedral. She died in 1922 and her painting hangs in the Chapterhouse. Richmond was passed to her nephew Lt. Col. Hugh Collum who died in 1929.
The original building, circa 1980.
The house was then sold to Basil Mc Farland who renamed it Aberfoyle. Sir Basil, as he was known, erected the red gates with his monogram which can still be seen in the middle of each gate. The Architect and surveyor Stewart Gordon built the original Aberfoyle House after 1856. Gordon died around 1860 and the house passed to the lawyer Thomas Chambers. Around 1900 the house passed to Sir John Mc Farland's family, who retained the name 'Aberfoyle'.
Sir John died in 1926 and his son Basil purchased Richmond and renamed it. He also renamed the old house (completed in 1865) in the grounds of Magee 'Talbot House' after his mother. During the Second World War, Aberfoyle was used by the American Navy as an officer’s mess. An underground tunnel ran from the basement to the underground bunkers situated in the grounds of Magee University. These Shelters, which held important wartime meetings of the Allies North Atlantic Fleet, were filled in during the construction of the University of Ulster at Magee.
On the death of Sir Basil Mc Farland in 1986, The Aberfoyle estate was sold to Mr Bobby Bell. Mrs Boyle who had worked in Aberfoyle house, remained as a tenant in The Gatelodge. After her death the Gatelodge was taken over by a local property developer who bricked up the windows and let it fall into a state of disrepair. It was bought by Liam Cummings in January 1999. Restoration began in December 2000 and the centre was opened in September 2001.