Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hill Country

On Sunday, the president of ACO Quinte, the able and dedicated David Bentley, led a tour of homes in the Old East Hill area of Belleville. The tour was well-attended, David provided loads of architectural and social history, the weather was wonderful, the gardens were exquisite, the trees were green and shading. And the houses were a joy.

I tend to avoid groups. But Sunday's experience, and other ACO tours we have joined, are making me a believer. It is delightful to spend time with people who have the same interests, and enthusiastically discuss pressed metal vs. wooden drip moulds, who notice the curiosity of 6 over 3 sash windows or the building and maintenance of chimneys, and appreciate the efforts of old house owners who build additions with great sensitivity and fidelity to historic styles.

It was great to talk with some of the elder members whose families had lived in these neighbourhoods for generations, and whose story is bound up with the built heritage of the OEH. Their minds take them (and us) back to the day when the doctor who had his surgery in that house removed a button from a child's nose when she was six, or the dark times when the wrought iron fences gracing most OEH properties was commandeered for the war effort (WWI). A distinguished retired doctor shared the health misfortunes of the Scandinavian fellow who built this board and batten carriage house, and the tragedy of a child struck by a car in front of that home. It was interesting to learn that the house with the corner door and the missing porch post was once a neighbourhood store, and amusing to find out that the Fox sisters, legendary mediums from the US, and Susanna Moodie met for seances at a particular address on John Street.

Lots of tours coming up: Cherry Valley, Picton, Sidney Township. Gonna go. Nice bunch of folks, old house people.

1 comment:

  1. I'm SO sorry I missed this, especially after you mentioned it to me. And I was just at home wasting time. That was a real missed opportunity and one I would have truly enjoyed.