Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Battle of Hastings

Road trip. Warm sunny November day. The last in a series. Road-tripping in the Trent Hills. I picked up a takeaway lunch and enjoyed it on a park bench on Front Street, admiring reflections in the millpond-smooth Trent River. I watched some fellows demolishing an old house. And I worried a bit, because I recalled two Queen Anne houses along this stretch of road. And neither was anywhere to be seen.

I even accosted a friendly dog-walker, who kindly directed me to a number of older homes he appreciated in his regular visits to the village.

But Lee couldn't recall the pair of over-dressed Victorians I was wondering about. I was determined that those houses stood along the river!

I drove around town, and in short order, I discovered my two painted ladies. Where they always stood, on Bridge Street South.

 What this turned out to be, was the mind playing tricks. The battle of Hastings.

I leave Tom Cruickshank to say something sensible to rescue this post from silliness. In Old Ontario Houses (Firefly Books, 2000) he describes the twins as "dazzling essays in Queen Anne exuberance," listing the "profusion of stained glass windows, spoolwork trim and fish-scale shingles...cone-roofed towers, bay windows and..tiered verandahs."

They are called the Doxcee houses, built c1900 by a local lumber merchant, from plans drafted by an architect from New York. Cruickshank relates that the plans were found in the attic of the yellow house while it was being restored.

They look like Victorian summer cottages, although I insist they would be much nicer situated along the river.

They remind me of a pair of almost identical Queen Anne summer homes in Wellington, which I had a look at a few springs ago. These two look like the same plan, reversed, though one risks whip-lash by trying to compare details.

And these two stand on Main Street screened behind majestic old trees, with a view of the lake (although a bit compromised by later builds) recalling the days when Wellington was a breezy resort community far away from the bustle.

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