Prescott is an Ontario town on the St. Lawrence, across the river from Ogdensburg, New York. Prescott was founded by Edward Jessup, a Loyalist who, in 1787, was rewarded for his service to King George with a 1,200-acre land grant. Jessup had a portion of this grant surveyed as a town site in the year of 1810. He named the new settlement Prescott in honour of General Robert Prescott who was appointed governor-in-chief of British North America in 1794. The town occupied a strategic military site and Fort Wellington was built on Prescott’s eastern edge in 1812 to defend the St. Lawrence River and the town.
One of the early settlers in the new town was Alpheus Jones, who arrived from Augusta in 1813. From 1816 to 1828, Jones was postmaster at Fort Wellington. As Prescott grew, Jones also served the town as postmaster and acted as Collector of Customs from 1823 until his death in 1863.
There are many attractive stone houses in Prescott and the surrounding region, but one of the most beautiful is that built by Alpheus Jones. It is situated on a large lot in the centre of the old town. The large, Georgian style house was constructed between 1827 and 1832 by masons that Jones brought over from England. Limestone from the Kingston area was used for the front facade. It’s said that when first cut, the stone had a bluish tint, so the new house was first known as The Blue House, and later as Holmstead.
The grand house was heated by 8 fireplaces until the 1930s, when a hot water heating system was installed. In 1937, it was sold to the Earle brothers, who divided the interior into two living areas and started a lumber business in the rear coach house. After 180 years of service, the house remains an elegant testament to the skill of its builders. Its pleasing Georgian symmetry still satisfies the eye.
Oddly enough, there is another historic Alpheus Jones House in Raleigh, North Carolina. It is a Greek Revival-style plantation house, which was built in 1847. For more on Georgian homes, see my March 31, 2011 post, Georgian Delights.