Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

making a graceful exit

pilasters with gentle curve or 'entasis'
 It's been years since I've been in Northport...years since I looked at buildings that have always caused a skip in the heartbeat, through the slightly wiser eyes of a history of architecture student. I have tended to overlook buildings with obvious add-on dormers, because they are just so...unlovely.

But on Monday morning I made the acquaintance of two folks I knew I would enjoy and learn much from. And these folks, who live in the area, and know their way around PEC's early buildings, told me to be sure to have a look for this decaying house in Northport village.

I remember Northport from my early days, travelling with dad to deliver a load of tomatoes  to the cannery there - I think I found the building, restored with some folk-art figures smiling from the windows. Curious.

brick nogging or infill between hand-hewn structural members

On my return home, I had a look at SD for details about this lovely old place, which clearly needs a rescue very soon. Vindicated for my modern dormer snobbery by Stokes' comment about "awkward dormers", I got past the modern chimney and windows, the out-of-period porches, the peeling paint, and the rather intimidating giant wasp nest near the amazing front door, to appreciate the Greek Revival features of this "stylish" Demille house, dating from the mid-1830's.

doorcase elements
This house is outstanding for its many features in the 'new' Greek Revival style, created in what is likely the native white pine.  Substantial eaves returns and front door panels betray the influences, as do the pilasters bordering the door and the sidelights adjacent, the delicate cornices of the windows, and the fluted cornerboards.

There are a number of houses in this village which have the same roots - American-flavoured Loyalist homes, demonstrating that new republic's love affair with Greek history, political beliefs and architectural elements, all transported to a tiny Upper Canada community (which, I'm told was once a happening town) along the Bay of Quinte.


  1. It pains me to see houses like this, with so much potential. The nogging is cool, and very reminiscent of a c.1670 house I once visited in Salem, Mass.. There, the nogging consisted of brick and anything else they could find.

    As for the "awkward dormers", they're some of the worst I've seen. That aside, this could be a beautiful house.......

  2. I've been watching for a new post for a couple of weeks, so I was happy to discover this one when we returned from a trip to Harlech Castle late today. Good eye, my friend!

  3. ...and I'll be looking forward to your post about Harlech Castle!