Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Too young to care...

Alwington 1954 (Panoramio)

To young to care...1959 and a building rich in history and architectural significance disappears from my life, before I even knew it. Reading Kingston history the past couple of days, and browsing images, I have fallen in love with the story - and the architecture - of Alwington House. Alwington stood on important King Street west, just a bit east of the penitentiary.
Alwington 1954 (Panoramio)
 The venerable Margaret Angus in The Old Stones of Kingston explains that Alwington's importance lay in the fact that "it was perhaps the most important single dwelling in Kingston and because its story belongs not to Kingston alone but to the whole country."

Alwington was Government House, built in 1834 for Charles William Grant, and leased to the government in 1841. Alwington was the most important house in the new country, in the years from 1841 (the year of union of Upper and Lower Canada) until 1844, while Kingston was the capital city and Lord Sydenham, Governor General, resided there. "Much of the basic structure of Canadian government was mapped out [here]" continues Angus.
Alwington - Street side - 1954 (Panoramio)

Lord Sydenham died of gangrene, after a fall from his horse, said to have been startled by a pile of building rubble outside Hale's Cottages, in September 1841. Kingston died as capital in 1844, when the seat of government for the newly united country moved to Montreal.

I have posted some photos found in online searches. I admit to being reluctant to do so; although ownership/copyright is said to be a factor, most of these photos are well over fifty years old, and as such I believe they are public domain. I attempted to contact one of the sites with no success.
Government Alwington House 1832

So, this is Alwington. Lost when I was 12, and hadn't travelled as far as Kingston yet.

Today, an enclave of pretty boring suburban homes lays claim to the property. The only dignify left (imho) is the look out to the lake - but even that is exclusive - private property. Look but don't touch.

Willowbank, Niagara on the Lake (1834)

I can only console myself with the memories of high style Classic Revival structures which I have been able to visit, wander about, and fall in love with.
Victoria College, Cobourg (1832)

Barnum House, Grafton (1817)

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