It has long since relinquished its claim to housing the “world’s largest room” but this former British flax mill is back in the limelight once again. Known as Temple Works, the quintessential 117,843 square-foot structure was set to hit the auction block on Dec. 7, with bids to start at the bafflingly low price of £1 ($1.35), but luckily, secured a buyer in advance.
The building is in such bad shape that it will require an estimated $27 million in renovations, Curbed reports. For whatever reason, Temple Works’ owners – the esteemed Barclay family, who also owns the UK-headquartered Telegraph Media Group – have allowed the building to remain in its fragile state since they purchased it in 2004. In fact, Temple Works was once deemed one of the 10 most endangered buildings by the Victorian Society. Further complicating matters, the building suffered a partial collapse in 2008.
Despite its current conditions, the flax mill certainly didn’t start out in such a sad state. It was built in 1836 and earned a reputation as a magnificent sight. As The Guardian describes it:
According to Historic England, the building represents the zenith of the Marshall Mills flax business in Leeds and had acquired a legendary reputation within a few years of its construction. The Egyptian facade, featuring elaborate giant columns topped with lotus capitals and hieroglyphic-filled coving, was designed by the Egyptologist Joseph Bonomi, brother of the architect Ignatius Bonomi. Egypt had an important flax industry in the ancient world.
Over the years and in spite of its dilapidated state, the expansive space has served as a cultural center. In 2015, Burberry sets its sights on the former flax mill, but backed out of plans to purchase the building and turn it into a factory and showroom for its designer fashions.
On Thursday, developer CEG said it had “agreed terms to acquire” the Grade 1-listed building, according to BBC, hopefully quelling fears that it would go to an ill-prepared buyer.