Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Friday, March 14, 2014

Step inside little lady, step inside

It was inevitable. I have yielded to the siren call to step inside those ancestral roofs I have been admiring form afar - satisfied by studying their architectural style, appreciating their exquisite proportions and details, loving the play of sun and shadow on old clapboard and ashlar.

 But I have been lured inside of recent days, like a cold stray puppy drawn to the warmth, to begin a study of fireplaces and mantels, cooking and heating stoves. And once warmed at those fires, I have turned to survey the rooms, and have fallen once again head over heels for historic interiors and furnishings: box halls and slip rooms, panelled dados and wainscoting,  dry sinks and corner cupboards, trestle tables and splat back chairs, appreciating the growing refinement of Upper Canadian furniture over the nineteenth century.

Reviewing photos from museum house visits, recalling my interviews with Diane and John Brisley in their 1810 home, writing up this week's interview with Janice in her c.1865 stone house for County and Quinte Living magazine (shh, can't reveal more yet)  and of course my involvement with everyone's favourite Victorian house, Glanmore, have all made it inevitable that my blog should travel indoors.

It's not for the first time that my head is turned. In fact, I have many years of interest in country home decorating (including a busy Victorianizing of our modern condo at one time) in my closet.

A great deal of research (and shopping) took place as we decorated our old log house near North Bay in the 1990's, fuelled by Century Home magazine source guides, encouraged by some very good replica furniture makers in the north.

Judith's recent gift of a huge Century Home collection has reactivated my study of that resource, and led to pulling Jeanne Minhinnick  and Howard Pain (recommended by Mel Shakespeare a while back when I interviewed him for a log house article for Country Roads magazine) off the shelf.

Then of course, there's my personal attachment to several old pieces linked to my own family history, which I inherited. I'll tell their story one day soon.

So the evolution of my love for historic interiors and furnishings is clearing. As is a deeper appreciation of the evolution of furniture styles, and the delightful vocabulary of Regency and Eastlake, Sheraton and Chippendale to enrich my enjoyment of isolated examples.

All these photos were taken at Upper Canada Village, where Jeanne Minhinnick wove her magic, creating interiors. Trips to other favourite museum houses (Macaulay House in Picton, Macpherson House in Napanee) coming up soon. And a trip down the street to Belleville's own National Historic Site, Glanmore.

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