Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Sunday, May 1, 2011

McKendry's McKingston

The planets were in alignment last Saturday. The perfect combination of sunny warm weather falling on a committment-free Saturday led to several enjoyable hours of traipsing the old town's daffodilly residential streets, admiring her lovely heritage homes, and bringing home 137 photos of great buildings with history, to enjoy, research and study.

We wandered through the long ago absorbed village of Portsmouth with its higgledy-piggeldy streets, inviting public park and community flowerbeds. Had a nice chat with a Bernese Mountain dog and her most gracious human (one of the community gardeners), whose neighbour was the brick Georgian featured here - one of the oldest in the village. Learned that these houses were once at waterside, the park appearing and King Street West developing as the bay and marsh were progressively filled in. We wandered up the driveway, as BMD was expected there anyway for her customary treat, and had a look at the plaque (which my telephoto had already sussed for me) - 1819, pretty good for Ontario. And in brick too. And totally restored, with careful ongoing maintenance. Special seat on the bus for those folks!

Another delight was to return home to find an account of this home in Jennifer McKendry's fine book With our Past Before Us about c19 architecture in the Kingston area (UofT Press 1995). According to her introduction, this book is one of the first to celebrate Kingston's early buildings and architects since Margaret Angus' Old Stones of Kingston (1966 & 89). McKendry has produced an impressive list of work (she has a special spot for picturesque old cemeteries, and is a great photographer), and I turn to her books often when researching Kingston buildings. I have still not determined how active and effective local historical societies are in that area - I would expect they would be well established with a base of scholarship to draw on, and some mighty impressive buildings to preserve.

McKendry records that this house was built in 1819 by James Gardiner, a farmer with 50 acres of crop land. His house was built tight against the original road that followed the shoreline of Hatter's Bay, and he eschewed a more picturesque location in favour of direct access to water, the transportation route for his market-bound crops.

Nice day, nice house, nice to know :-)

1 comment:

  1. Three cheers for the people who restore these old beauties and for the people - like you! - who appreciate them enough to write and photograph them so that people - like me! - can enjoy also them, if only vicariously.