Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Friday, December 9, 2011

on my way to town...

I've been enjoying a browse through Ameliasburgh township in The Settler's Dream. I came upon the description of this unusual house, one of the triumvirate of PEC homes featuring "novel architectural forms" - the others being the octagonal houses associated with Owen Roblin, and the J.P. Downes house which I am keeping an eye on. Interesting that all three are favourites of mine....guess I would have created a unique house in the day (or attempted to influence my lord and master to do so).

I may have talked about this before - when I was growing up in North Marysburgh PEC, the trip to Belleville was a long and infrequent one. Our dad was a great 'buy local' kind of guy. Who bought? We grew it. Indeed, the daunting prospect of being caught in the lineup for the swing-bridge, or the possibility of a flat tire delaying the arrival home for milking made the whole trip somewhat fraught.

In those magical days, the road to Belleville travelled the old highway 14, a treed and twisty route around the impassable expanse of the Massassauga marsh (how would they build a road over a marsh, we thought), past the road to Massassauga Point, and through Rossmore village to the south end of the causeway to the old swing bridge. Even today, there are tantalizing echoes of the old route in Rossmore and along Highland Avenue in Belleville (where we were delighted finally by the Riverboat House on our way downtown).

My mother, perhaps to lessen the tension, or to amuse the "are we there yet" contingent would draw our attention to unusual sites along the way. This house always drew comment. Like the Downes house in Picton, it had a castle whimsy that appealed to me. The tiny windows in the second half-story were especially appealing, suggesting a short second floor that only the small people could inhabit. Cruikshank's term for them, "stomachers", though doubtless correct, doesn't convey the Rapunzel romance of those whimsical windows.

The monitor with its spiky finial, the four gables with yummy gingerbread above pointy gothic windows, the sharp finials on gable peaks, and the askew chimneys all created a lively and appealing storybook house we looked forward to visiting around the tree-lined turn near the tiny bridge over the creek on this narrow road - now passed by daily by speeding commuters.

Nice that the old Zufelt/Weatherhead house, c. 1852, is looking pretty good for her age. She was already 100 when I loved her as a child.

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