Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Monday, November 3, 2014

Travel plans

Have I mentioned how much I like Cobourg?

Last January I did a walkabout, shooting houses that caught my eye in North part of town, my fingers burning with cold on the shutter, my ears and cheeks ditto.

I was relieved when I returned home to my computer to find that I could continue my walkabout from the comfort and safety-from-hypothermia of my own little writing room. I mentioned three amazing online links in a post on January 27.

'American Gothic Revival' 202 Green Street (1879)

 In that post, I promised to return. And I have kept that promise, largely thanks to the retirement of a very fine gentleman, father of my oldest friend, to that fair city. Now I get to see him more regularly, and rendezvous with my dear friend as well, over lunch at the city's finest retirement complex.

 And walk about a lovely old town, whose residents understand how heritage buildings (domestic and public) enrich their town.

The white stucco house above was the location of my lovely husband's read and nap on a return visit to town, when I scouted the neighbourhood. It's at 217 King St. East. Can't find its story. Yet.
Glebe Lawn, (1854)195 Queen

The gloomy brick edifice with the looming hooded balcony  is the home of the reigning monarch of the industrialists' summer colony, dubbed 'Hadfield Hurst'. Later a school, now an apartment building. In decline.

On my last visit, on a sunny September day, I poodled about part of the area ACO describes in their East Tour. Of course, I had Ashenberg firmly in hand (I've spoken enough times about this invaluable walking tour guide to 10 Ontario towns that I won't go on about it again here.)

I loved these two early houses. Glebe Lawn, described by Katherine Ashenberg as "faintly clerical", appropriate for this appealing house built by Dr. James Auston on Anglican church property. The white house with the scalloped bargeboard and the Gothic gable window appeals - but she warns purists of the 1920's revival doorcase installed in the 1960's. Love it, me.
Mrs. Dooly's House (1874). 199 Henry Street

Stucco Italianate (1873) luscious brackets

Diocesan Theological institute and school (1841)
 The soft old brick and the Tudor window labels caught my eye. Turns out this building at 174 Green Street has an interesting history. The main floor was commissioned by the Reverend Alexander Bethune to be an Anglican theological college and grammar school (thanks Ms. A.). Later (1906) it gained a second floor and a back wing and became a public school.

Georgian Revival ~ 130 King Street East
Even later, a summer home for American visitors. That's a fascinating study, which I will get round to one day. Sad thing is, many of the palatial summer homes of this northern version of The Hamptons are gone now.

 This square brick house was my favourite of the day. Ashenberg describes it as a Georgian Revival style, rare for its copper roof (love copper roofs and their ageing patina), its panelled door surround (what, no side-lights?) and the window above the portico with the scrolled moulding.

Palladian formality, side wings, sober symmetry.

Regency villa, 262 Walton Street (1856)

 I took a photo of this lovely Regency home during my January expedition; it is just SO much more Regency in summer, with the lush garden setting in its glory. The vines festooning the wrap-around verandah, and the French doors opening onto it, the earth-hugging profile on a bit of a knoll, the ample windows open to the breeze...just say summer.

 As do these two beautiful verandahs, overlooking beautifully landscaped lawns and the shade of mature trees. Makes it easy to understand why so many wealthy American industrialists 'summered' in this lovely town in the early days. Here's a link to some of that delicious Cobourg history.

And here's another. I'm going back, how about you?


  1. Thanks for this fine visit to Cobourg. I wish I'd found it before taking a hand in the exhibition "BUILT: Exploring our Built Heritage". It's on this summer at the Sifton-Cook Heritage Centre, Cobourg's Museum.

  2. How kind of you to drop a line. And how great to know about the exhibition, which I shall surely take in, on yet another visit to Cobourg.