A couple of years ago, say 1828, a permanent settlement was established on the shores of Lake Simcoe. Named after Commodore Robert Barrie, our ‘now’ City was born. Today we’re travelling back in time to visit Barrie’s history of homes.
Hidden Gems within our City
We can only imagine the stories they’d tell – if wall truly did have ears. Walking from one home to another at that time meant travelling over macadam roads or through heavy drifts of snow. The road construction has certainly changed, but the Barrie’s homes of history remain hidden gems within the city.
Barrie's History of Homes Starts Here
Let’s start with 101 Clapperton Street, which is built in the Gothic Revival Style. This home was originally built for Thomas David McConkey in the mid 1870’s. It has been known as Artrea and Pinecroft apartments in its time. Mr. McConkey, ‘Oily Tom’ as he was known was one of the original Town Council members in 1854. Mr. McConkey led a public service life until his death in 1890. At that time his daughter inherited this wonderful residence electing to use it as a summer home.
The beautiful windows, steep pitched roofline, decorative exterior and chimney are an outstanding tribute to the many master craftsmen of the era.
A Statement at that Time
Moving along to 168 Owen Street which was thought to be built around 1900, we see a subdued Gothic Revival home with less ornamentation yet an arched entrance and red brick which was considered ultra modern in the day.
Standing on the property, the house shared space with 250 Black Walnut trees given to the owner, James L.R. Cotter by his father in law, Mr. Lount. (Yes, the same Philadelphia native that owned Lount Castle on Valley Drive). It must have been incredibly majestic in its day. During the 1980’s a portion of the property was severed for the Walnut Grove Condo Complex.
A Home as Storied as it's Owners
One last home to visit today is located at 55 Peel Street. This home, formerly known as Statenborough has an owner history unlike most others. Previous owners included a not well liked land speculator, an unsavory county treasurer who purchased the property in 1886 for $4,000.00, and a group of geologists who struck gold at Kirkland Lake in 1911 (one of them – William Wright founded the Globe and Mail)
The home has since served as a nursing/retirement home for many years. One I know well having been employed there during ownership under George Horn and partners. It’s a home unlike many with its mixed Gothic/Renaissance design, the added ballroom in the west wing, (which now serves as a lovely dining room) and the beautifully sloping lawns.
Imagine the incredible time taken to build each of these homes without the equipment, tools and supplies we have today. I ask you to notice the various roof lines of each. They’re all so unique, yet in great repair. Barrie’s homes of history need loving upkeep all around; however their roofs need great experience. Often there are many levels, add ons and very steep pitch to contend with. This is certainly an important part of protecting our hidden gems.
Remember the Experts at JN Roofing
JN Roofing of Barrie is known for their work on some of our heritage homes, so if you’re a proud owner keep that in mind at repair or replace time.
Written By: Jane Laker
Photo Credit: Barrie Historical Society/Veronika Kovecses/Stephen Elliott