The front of the building (which was originally three properties) first appears on maps sometime between 1805 and 1841 on what was then Myrtle Street. It is likely that these properties and those surrounding it were associated with the then Highbury College – which is now buried under the main stand of Arsenal’s old stadium. This educational connection continues to this day, with no less than nine educational establishments of various types within five minutes walk of Elizabeth House.
In the 1980s, the building and its work entered a period of decline, and the decision was made to close it and sell it off. The loss of this facility was a matter of great concern for the local community, and a number of volunteers established a trust in order to save it. Jeremy Corbyn MP, Rev Stephen Coles of St Thomas’s Church, Sue Higgs and the staff at the then Blackstock Advice Centre (now sadly closed down) together with others formed The Highbury Vale Blackstock Trust.
After difficult negotiations involving meetings at the House of Commons, the building was purchased. Funding came from the Church Urban Fund and the Tudor Trust, but by far the largest amount came from an anonymous local benefactor. Restoration work finally began in September 2000 and Elizabeth House opened exactly a year later with courses run by City and Islington College. The building was formally re-opened at the end of February 2002 with HRH the Princess Royal as the guest of honour.
In winter 2017, the building underwent major refurbishment works both internally and externally to create a modern and welcoming space for the community.
Elizabeth House in 2017