"In Praise of Older Buildings"
Friday, November 2, 2012
History for Sale
The former Couldery home on Dundas Street West in Belleville (I like the street's former name, the Old Trent Road) is for sale by owner. The porch is tilting, the plantings are overgrown, the windows are empty, and for some time I have been worrying about its future.
It's no country for old houses. Another very significant early house, the Ponton-Hutton house was lost on this stretch of road in favour of suburban sprawl.
The house is still impressive. An ornate chimney, the irregular massing, verandahs and mixed fenestration of the Queen Anne style still give it presence. The property is large and treed, preventing a closer look. Glanmore NHS Curator Rona Rustige and Marketing and Education Coordinator Melissa Wakeling got that closer look a few years ago. They tell the story of visiting the house one morning, and being invited in by the woman of the house, encountering only later the man of the house, en deshabille, who had no idea of (and little enthusiasm for) the visit!
Now why would these women want to visit? That's the best part of the story, and for it I turn to 'Glanmore', a little book published by the Friends of Glanmore in 2003. This house was purchased in the early 1880's by visitors from England, Bertram and Cecilia Couldery. "A train delay in Belleville resulted in the Coulderys spending the night at the Docter's Hotel* , located across the road from the train station. William Docter, the hotel proprietor, gave the Coulderys a tour of the area and they decided to establish a second home in Belleville.
The Docter and Couldery families became close friends. Ann Susanna Docter (1868-1956), the eldest of the Docter's eleven children, accompanied the Coulderys on their return to England in 1891."
Glanmore National Historic Site. What a great multilayered house story.
"If I had a million dollars...I'd buy me a house."
*Sadly, the Docter's Hotel is now an embarrassing wreck tainted with nasty associations, slated for demolition.