Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Give my regards to...Kingston

Had an outstanding day last Saturday at the Kingston Historical Society's conference on the war of 1812...a topic I'm fascinated in. A scholarly and entertaining lineup of speakers covered a vast range of topics of local interest. Of course, I was enthralled with the story of the Onandaga armoury, an early stone structure in upper New York state, with a ring-side seat to that conflict.
Gardiner House, 1818, Portsmouth Village
A very fine lunch in a room with pigeon's eye view of the Customs House and the dome of St. George's Cathedral (one of my lunch companions lives with that view!) and ample pauses between sessions made it possible to network and get a good look at local resources. I got to spend time in the company of 'townies', fans of Kingston who live, walk and work in downtown of this old city, and of course found old-house connections  in this wonderful old-house town. In their honour, I post a few favourites of mine.

parapet walls in Portsmouth Village

a worthy stone house along Princess Street

Ann Baillie Building - 1909 Nurses' Residence, KGH
Among the best contacts was a chat with David of the Frontenac Heritage Foundation. We visited the website, talked over the vision and projects of the organization and discussed training needs in heritage restoration arts (an opportunity to share my enthusiasm for the heritage conservation program at Willowbank in Queenston).

So many links: writers of my favourite Kingston built heritage resources, Margaret Angus and Jennifer McKendry were represented at the FHF display in a tribute volume written about Mrs. Angus by Ms. McKendry. The group's website displayed photos of a recent Margaret Angus honouree receiving the award from Mrs. Angus' daughter. One of this conservationist's projects was to remove and reassemble the original Mallory log home from Mallorytown (a town I fell in love with this summer) on Amherst Island, which I have never visited despite growing up on nearby Prince Edward County. It's now on my list! Later I got a chance to meet Jennifer, who regaled us with stories of her photo essay experiences (with snakes) in Lake Ontario Park.

I think I'm meant to join this many pleasant coincidences must be a sign. As I looked through the website later, checking out upcoming programming, I learned that a fellow we met in Bath this summer is scheduled to show the group around his family's Kingston home in December. The gentleman is Ron Tasker, who graciously toured groups of 1812 event visitors around his restoration work at the c.1819 Ham house, a fine neo-Classical house with a great history, on a punishingly hot July day. I had worried about that house for years and blogged about its potential for death by neglect. Rescue came just in time via a FHF member!

David replied to an email question about membership, and commented on my blog. He suggested he might mention it to FHF members, so by this post I welcome them. With such an informed group possibly visiting, I shall have to do even more careful research as I post in the future!

Ron Tasker, FHF member, explaining restoration
of Ham House, c.1819, Bath

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