Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

a house with nine lives

I still don't have Niagara-on-the-Lake out of my system. This house represents so many of the things I like about this town: heritage preservation, financially well supported, painstakingly and authentically carried out at 234 Johnson Street.
The Clench house was built in 1816. Ironically, despite all the claims made of houses surviving the devastating American burning of the town in 1813, only a few actually did. One of these survivors was a house owned by the Clench family, which survived only to burn down in a washday fire the following spring.The builder, Colonel Ralfe Clench of Butler's Rangers of the Lincoln militia was a prominent Loyalist and local dignitary, serving as town clerk, judge and member of provincial parliament.
The house is Georgian in its quietly imposing symmetry and Neo-classical in its elegant detailing - large sash windows, delicate elliptical fanlight, fluted pilasters topped with Ionian capitals, and a second floor Venetian window. The refined portico which is being restored in the project is a later addition which tends to obscure the fine doorway. The Clench house is listed as one of Canada's most significant pre-20th century homes in the town. The 2-acre sloping property on a creek is exquisite. I'm looking forward to revisiting to see how the restoration is going, and the use to which the property will be put.

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