Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Movin' on Up

 Large grounds. Lots of mature trees. A dignified distance from the hoi poloi passing by outside the hedge. Gateposts and a long drive. And a hillside location. Always a hillside. That's where the 'better' people - and consequently the better houses - congregate. In most of the towns and cities we visit on old-house hunting forays, a quick trip to the highest point of land is the sure-fire way to find the interesting houses.

Homewood, Colonial Revival style 1909

Port Hope's Walton Street is no exception. In this old-house heaven, Dorset Street still manages to be a bit more heavenly.

Even the 'best' people get a bit threadbare occasionally. Their people will have gotten to this by my next visit. The day I passed their gateposts, a group of cheery workmen were polishing the place up. Imagine the costs and worries of maintaining this place. Thanks to the folks who do.

 Massive bulk, high roof, dormers, imposing chimneys, eight-bay fronti verandah with pillars. Can you say mint julep?

I read somewhere that the house was originally clad in dark mustard clapboard, in New England Georgian style.

Dorset Street has speed bumps to remind drivers to show appropriate respect for this posh neighbourhood (the driving equivalent of clutching your cap in your hands when you approach your betters). And to top that, the entire climb up/drift down Walton Street is separated by a boulevard planted in silk lilacs and day lilies. Heavenly on an early July walkabout!

Downhill, over the edge of Dorset Street, and barely visible through the wooded grounds of yet another fine home opposite,  is the waterfront industrial area. Today Cameco. Wonder what was there when Homewood was built as a summer home for wealthy American, James Schwartz in 1904. Lovely lakeshore, but in those days, waterfronts were often anything but salubrious.

I recall an earlier visit to Port Hope, falling under the spell of this1822 seaman's hotel on King Street at the waterfront, the very building channelled by Jane Urquhart in her evocative work (and my favourite novel ever) 'Away'. Quite the different neighbourhood. Quite a different time. Wish I could find the post!

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