Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Monday, October 1, 2018

Must Do Delta

During a camping week at Charleston Lake PP this (long) past summer, we spent a day visiting a lovely town we'd glimpsed enroute to somewhere else, a few years ago. A real eye-catcher sited on a huge treed lot on a curve leading into downtown, well, caught my eye. And the 'early' forms of several buildings insisted I return. So we did.

The house which lured me back to the village of Delta was this fine Georgian, built by Irish merchant William Bell in 1860. Symmetry, plus.
 Stone lintels and quoins (although the stucco treatment below the full-width verandah draws attention away from the latter.) Gorgeous doorcase with half side-lights and rectangular transom - interesting glazing pattern.

I'm guessing the gallery with its Regency style trellis, the cornice brackets and the delicate enclosed glassed-in porch on the second floor (staunchly centre bay, however) are all later embellishments. To me, the lattice design of the balustrade is a discord...maybe I've just seen too much of that kind of stuff at DIY stores over the years.Would love to have had a closer look at the carriage house to the left.

I think William Bell and I might have gotten along. We have some of the same taste in homes, at least. For the second house in this post  is Bell's first house in the village. It's a dwelling he shared with his store. The guide places the date at late 1850s.

This is the Greek Revival facade that caught my eye on a drive-through a year or two ago. It was inspiring to stand in front of its (admittedly crumbling) locally made brick facade.The shop front with deep entry porch, early wooden doors and half side-lights was once upstaged by "an elaborate wooden cornice [stretching] across the front facade above the large display windows." Likely different glazing, now. I hope help comes soon for this important piece of Delta's history. It stands on the bank of the millpond joining Upper and Lower Beverley Lakes (I hope I got that right - everything changed when Delta's  mill was built and waterway diverted.)   I quote the guide: "Treasures from the outer world once came by steamboat to Mr. Bell's emporium via the Rideau Canal, Morton and Beverley Lake." Here's a Streetview link so you can join the walkabout.

Town Hall 1880
built of locally made bricks

In front of the former town hall, we had a chat with Mary Beth, a one-woman town beautification committee, wielding a strimmer. She is part of the volunteer-powered heritage group behind this historic town. Mary Beth introduced us to The Delta Mill Society (1963 to present) that force for good which saved the exceptional stone mill in the village, many years ago. More on that in another post.

In 1994, the Mill Society also took over responsibility for the Town Hall, which houses a museum and offices of the society. Seems Delta, once operating on water power, is now powered largely by amazing volunteers.

Bad and good news here. Sadly, we had to leave the village temporarily for lunch, as Delta, like so many wonderful old spots, is 'sans un commerce." (credit for this observation on the engine which might rejuvenate villages goes to my lovely friend Katherine Sedgwick, of  Meanwhile at the Manse, a blog featuring life and lots of it, in tiny Queensborough, north of Madoc. )

The good news. In nearby Elgin, we found a treasure. Savoury and Sweet,  home-made Hungarian inspired cuisine, truffles and other indulgences, a delightful host, an original 1893 general store - and an art show upstairs. Lots to love. Trip Advisor grants 5 stars - we agree. So, add that into your Delta visit plans.

Back now to downtown Delta, which despite the signage, was in no position to offer us pizza from its 1887 storefront location in the Delta Business Block. This early 'mall' was dubbed the Jubilee Block, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the good Queen's reign.

 Some great features remain: the inset shop entrances with their double doors, some of the original storefronts, some intriguingly glazed windows above the entrances, some decorative brick window surrounds above the segmentally arched windows. And do I see decorative pressed tin cornice with garlands, a band of fleur de lis, and two bands of a curvilinear design? And a tiny classical urn at the corner?

This essay in brick was the bank. The Romanesque Revival inspired arches assure bank patrons of the safety of their money, by drawing on medieval stronghold imagery. Here in our fortress your money is safe from theft, fire, the vagaries of financial markets - and rampaging barbarian hordes.

To finish off in Delta, assorted views of the downtown intersection.

Then and Now chapter.
The old photos were photographed on the wall of a meeting area in the Town Hall.
Thanks for the time-travel, people.

Jubilee Block, rear of mill, from Town Hall steps

Just recently Orland French was talking about the salvation of the lovely stone bridge at Lyndhurst (another day, another good story.) Sadly, Delta's stone bridge was replaced in 1961.

This photo is from an interpretive panel near the Delta Mill. Do go see the original.

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