Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Renovate and Gildersleeve

My working title for this post was 'Tensions'. Then I decided to test my readers' literary mettle - a free ACO Quinte membership to the first reader who followed me there.

On my recent Kingston visit, I was delighted to meet a woman, a financial planner with a posh firm, whose offices reside in another fine Kingston heritage building, Gildersleeve House (1825). Gildersleeve house is a wonderful hammer-dressed limestone house of very haughty classical proportions, with a portico and imposing doorway, and a large second storey window with balcony in the centre bay, a pediment with lunette above. The house was built for the Gildersleeve family, a big name in early steamboat navigation on Lake Ontario. In fact, they launched the Frontenac, first steamer on Lake Ontario, whose story is told in a roadside plaque on Highway 33 west of Amherstview.

Jane and I talked about the tension between development and 'hysterical societies' (her playful slip of the tongue), and the challenges in balancing fidelity to historic detailing in heritage buildings with meeting our modern expectations regarding comfort, convenience and accessibility.

She mentioned a simple yet thought-provoking example. Windows. She said their wonderful old single pane poured glass windows were ice-covered in the winters, and they were trying to find a way to maintain the look of the early c19 and still stay warm in the winter with double-glazing, sealed seams and the like. Seems like a reasonable request.

I know a good replica heritage window maker :-)

Thanks to Nick and Helma Mika for the information about the Gildersleeve house, and the Old Post Office in Kingston, in their 1983 publication Kingston Heritage.

Thanks also to Jennifer McKendry, from who I have 'borrowed' this great photo of Gildersleeve House (from With our Past Before Us: Nineteenth Century Architecture in the Kingston Area, UofT press, 1995) until I can get back to Kingston to take my own. Brilliant writer, outstanding heritage researcher, super book.

windows at left: Bridge Street Belleville
windows at right: Princess Street Kingston

1 comment:

  1. Well, Rosencrantz and Gildenstern, of course, but is the building dead? But save the membership for someone else. Right now, I know I wouldn't make good use of it. What a lovely thought on your part, though!