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Posts Tagged ‘Georgian style’

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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.

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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.

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On the road that runs west from here, there is an old, abandoned house. The windows and doors are boarded over and the weight of years of neglect burden its features. Once, though, it must have been new. In its day, it would have been quite an attractive home.

The house is similar to a number of others in the region, build of straight coursed stone in a 1 1/2 story Georgian style. Georgian architecture was popular between about 1720 and 1840. After about 1840 Georgian conventions were slowly abandoned as a number of Revival styles, including Gothic revival, became fashionable. However, in Canada the United Empire Loyalists continued to employ Georgian architecture as a sign of their allegiance to Britain, and the Georgian style was popular for most of the first half of the 1800s.

Georgian architecture is characterized by its respect for proportion and balance. For example, simple ratios were used to establish the height of a window in relation to its width. The shape of a room might be envisioned as a double cube. This house demonstrates the symmetry typical of a Georgian design, with the centrally-placed door framed by a window on each side. The chimneys, placed on both ends of the roof, are also characteristic.

The side of the house displays a similar respect for symmetry, with the two smaller windows of the upper level placed above the two larger openings on the first floor.

The Stones of Edwarsburgh, by Sandra H. Robertson and published by the Grenville County Historical Society, is an excellent resource for anyone interested in the history of buildings in the area. She notes that finding stone to build a house in Edwardsburgh county was not a problem, but locating a skilled stonemason might have been more difficult. The influx of emigrants from Scotland and Ireland between 1851 and 1861 might have resulted in a greater availability of skilled craftsmen, which might, in turn, account for an increase in the number of stone homes constructed during that period.

The 1861 census records William Marlatt, his wife Elizabeth, and their seven children as living in this particular home. Robertson notes that the house appears small for such a large family by current standards, but it was probably a vast improvement over their previous home.

The house is in pretty rough shape, but it is amazing just what skilled restorers can achieve. I came across this example of a home a bit farther north, clearly of similar design, that had been gutted by fire and was restored by Hubbard and Co. Amazing!

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