Fairfax House was built in the 1740s, but purchased in 1759 by the ninth Viscount Fairfax of Emley for his only surviving child, Anne Fairfax. He was a strong Roman Catholic, and the craftsmen who worked on the house were mostly of the same religion. The interior was designed by the architect John Carr.
The building was substantially altered in the twentieth century when internal walls were removed to turn the building into a dance hall. Reasonable care was taken to preserve some of the fittings by working around them, rather than destroying them.
The building became known as St. George’s Hall in its cinema and dance hall days. The building was in the care of York City Council when substantial damage was done to the building, with the building going through multiple uses, such as a dance school and student accommodation. The future of Fairfax House was secured however when York Civic Trust purchased the building in 1980 for the sum of 30,000 pounds with the aim of restoring it.
A substantial sum of money was spent by the Civil Trust to bring the building back into a good state, and many of the old fine carvings were restored. Noel Terry, from the chocolate family, had a substantial furniture collection, and this was initially intended to go to the National Trust, but instead came to Fairfax House. The repairs came to 750,000 pounds, but the building is now restored to its former glory, and is also now accessible to the general public again since its re-opening in 1984.
More information can be found at the official web-site at http://www.fairfaxhouse.co.uk/.