Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The A Team

22 Alexander (1890)
As I've been reading and writing about Great St. James Street, it's led me up the stairs  to Mount Pleasant Street, and the intriguing neighbourhood on the hill (is Mount Pleasant the name of the neighbourhood? Should be.)

25 Alexander (1869 with 1883 and 88 additions)
I am always drawn to neighbourhoods which eschew grid-like street layouts with 90 degree corners in favour of a bit of winding and intersecting. I love short Mount Pleasant and Hillcrest Streets, ending in a wooded bluff with a long flight of stairs. I admire Alexander and Forin Streets, which lounge on the diagonal across the map. Curved streets. Short streets. Narrow streets.
44 Alexander (1877-79)

It's a great neighbourhood for cycling and walking. Lots of trees. Mixed residential - gentrified and well, not. Lots of history. This was a popular neighbourhood during last year's Porchfest.
Have a Streetview wander for yourself.

A few years ago, when I was sitting on the Municipal Heritage Committee, we were assembling a list of so-called " buildings of interest," from a heritage perspective.

We tried several approaches to determining which addresses on a computer printout were the ones we thought the city should keep an eye on, in the event of demolition permit applications or the like. As well, the committee is always on the lookout for home-owners whose properties deserve commendation.

The first plan was to divide the list and have each committee member photograph 'our' neighbourhood.
47 Alexander

 The plan was later abandoned. But I, never reluctant to grab a camera and suss out a house or two, wandered Alexander, Albert and Ann  Streets (yes, I was the first one to put up my hand,) snapping away, and alarming the neighbourhood generally. (I heard later.)

So, on a windy freezing rainy day in February, I invite you on a walk in the sun of an August day, so I can point out a few of my favourites.

The neat Victorian Italianate brick house at 22 Alexander just kept getting better and better, and now it's picture perfect. I love the paired round-headed windows and iron cresting atop the front bay window and inviting porch. The Streetview photo shows someone working in the appropriate. We get to see the gorgeous results.

I love the expansive property at 44 Alexander; this massive brick house deserves all this dignified space.

Across the street is this imperious 1885/7 L-shaped brick house at 47 Alexander. The elegant porch and the double-leaf doors at the top of the tall stairs are very "Victorian dowager." The well-mannered ivy and other plantings, the brick path, the deep grey paint, mature trees...oh my. And just look at that roof dormer with the paired round-headed windows. Dibs on that room!

56 Alexander
The exquisite British Classical stone house at 56 Alexander was built a bit earlier than the rest of the neighbourhood, about 1860. It's one of Belleville's few stone houses. I took this photo some time ago...hope the owners haven't since succumbed to new door disease like another early stone house in the Old East Hill. The door-case with side-lights, transom, and panelled door is lovely. The house fronts on the side-walk in the old way, and is perfectly set off by a neat iron fence and sedate plantings. Waiting for an invitation up the refined brick path.

134 Albert St. (c1910)
The beautifully maintained Edwardian four-square in brick at 134 Albert is a cut above with stone quoins and lintels. It's had class since the beginning, owned by the Hon. Robert Reid, who distinguished himself as a director of the Grand Junction Railway, 1862 member of the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada (as we once called ourselves.) Post-1867 he became MP for Hastings East in the House of Commons and was later called to the Senate. The book refers to him as "first owner of the property." Lovely as it is, I suspect that by his Senatorial days he favoured a bit posher home.

I'm reading about 215 Albert - about all of these houses actually - in a favourite old house research book, Hastings Buildings East of the Moira (1991/2012.) It was produced by Heritage Belleville and is available at the local Archives. Just follow the "Bookshelf" link.
215 Albert

The house gets few accolades from the writers on the HCHS Building Research Committee, the workers on this inventory of historic and architecturally significant buildings. Just the facts, ma'am. But oh, my, since then this brick home has fallen into the right hands, and look at her now!

246 Albert (1872)

Another contender for the great place to spend an afternoon with a book and a bevvy is the front verandah at 246 Albert. Proudly waving its Canadian flag (funny how that's just not second nature to us,) this boxy brick is beautifully maintained. Nice entrance with side lights and transom. There's a gorgeous two-storey enclosed verandah on the south side. Looks like that spot would warm up in spring long before the rest of the city does.Some lovely mature trees about. Nice job folks.

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