Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Six degrees of many as that?

Picton's Crystal Palace (1887)
 In honour of the lovely virtual community that has grown up around this little blog - and to celebrate last week's milestone of 50,000 visits - I am thinking about connections between, synergy, coincidence and just delightful discovery - among those who love old houses

Since I first met Dave Bull at The Frontenac Heritage Foundation display at a heritage event in Kingston, membership in the group, and their informative publication Foundations, have been a source of connections, and delightful visits to places like Ham House in Bath.

The Old Boys' Gatehouse (1920)
Not surprisingly, the arrival of the April 2014 issue included several nice connections (as well as a reminder that my membership renewal is due.) The first was Anne MacDermaid's article 'A Fall Fair in 1860' mentioning Kingston's Crystal Palace. Kingston's Palace stood "where present-day Bath Road and Palace Roads meet" - wow, invitation to time travel on my next trip to K'ton.

That article of course led me to think about Picton's Crystal Palace (which has the virtue of being still in existence, miraculously saved from its decline in the 1980's and designated in 1988). Homage to London's Great Exhibition hall designed in 1851, Crystal Palace exhibition halls proliferated, and were the focus of agricultural fall fairs throughout the Dominion. Picton's still is.

I have fond memories of The Old Boy's Gatehouse, a Tudor Revival portal where we waited while dad paid admission to the untold excitements of Picton Fairgrounds each September.

Glanmore NHS
The second name that caught my eye in Ms. MacDermaid's 'Foundations' item was William Sawyer, a Kingston-based portrait artist. At the 1860 Fall Fair, she reports, Mr. Sawyer's portraits, still lifes and landscapes highlighted the fine arts display. William Sawyer was an itinerant portrait painter based in Montreal, who made his way to Belleville. My favourite Second Empire house, Glanmore National Historic Site, has a fine collection of local folk painted by William Sawyer.
image courtesy Frontenac Heritage Foundation

Then there was the Floyd Patterson article about Mark and Marny Raymond's ambitious relocation to Amherst Island, and restoration of the Mallory log house, an exceptional two-storey log structure closely associated with the founders of the village of Mallorytown. I recall my first Mallorytown visit, and celebratory post after the discovery of David J. Wells' fine local history. My CQL editor Catherine Stutt has Mallorytown roots. Another log-building link is a recent conversation (and future article) with Alex Fida, proprietor of Angeline's Inn and Restaurant in Bloomfield, and his 2 log house rescue projects.

Regency rebuild nearing completion winter 2011
And more. There's the announcement of the June 7th 200th anniversary celebrations in Barriefield, a delightful lilac and limestone hamlet on a rise above Kingston. I recall dropping by a beautifully restored workman's cottage there, to pick up an architectural element of some kind ("since I was in the area") for my friend Shannon Kyles, whose Prince Edward County Regency cottage rebuild made lots of print, including my own County and Quinte Living homage in the Summer 2012 issue. Now the house is run as a self-catering inn, The Gryphon.

I could go on about the connections this issue of 'Foundations' made for me. There's another article by Floyd Patterson about hopes for a Heritage Conservation District designation for Old Sydenham Ward. Rightly so. I am looking forward to ACO Quinte's walking tour of Earl Street in July (pay them a visit on Facebook). I'm planning a photo trip along Earl Street very soon.

Planned summer 'island hopping' road trips include Wolfe Island (where our Quinte ACO branch ventured last fall) and Amherst Island (to catch up a recent  FHF tour).

So, connections? Want some? Go to the Frontenac Heritage Foundation website, join, and make a few of your own.

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