Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Monday, January 17, 2011

"The stories this house could tell"

My Mom, to whom I attribute my early love of old houses, used to say, "the stories that house could tell" whenever we passed derelict homes and barns in our Prince Edward County drives. She started me thinking about the lives, the work, the dreams of the people who had once inhabited these old places. Today, whenever I see a barn standing derelict, with the wind blowing through gaps in the boards and doors hanging from rusty tracks, I hear the sounds of the community bee that raised that proud structure. I imagine the quiet pride felt by that settler family upon the completion of one more step in their journey toward prosperity and a more certain future for their sons.

How proud the builders of this brick house would have been. After several years of sheltering in a one-room log house while they cleared the forest and established cultivated fields, the family has achieved another milestone with the building of a solid brick house on a hill overlooking the farm. And it is a fine house with a door-case featuring a transom and sidelights, proud herringbone brick lintels above the windows, wide eight-over-eight sash windows, a second floor gable with a polychrome brick motif, two solid chimneys and a verandah from which to view the countryside in rare moments of leisure.

I snapped this house in the fading light of a January afternoon, on a sideroad off a concession road in Sidney township. I sought out the building because of a cryptic note printed on a map produced by the Quinte branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario. The map and the typed pages which accompanied it outlined a tour of Sidney township in Hastings county. The tour was put together in 1990 for a bus trip of homes and the agricultural past, to honour that township's bicentennial.

The note on the map reads "purported to be the oldest brick house in Sidney." Wouldn't I love to ask this old place to tell me its stories?

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes if you stand still in or near a place like this, you CAN hear the stories, feel the emotions, sense the dreams. It requires aloneness or the company of someone 'in sympathy' with the property.