Thursday, February 02, 2017

Cornwall Homes

In this installment of Cornwall Homes, I have mainly 2 homes to discuss. The first is Hart House. This is a large historic house near downtown. I don't know the build date, but I would guess around 1870-1880. It has been converted to commercial use, and I believe it is currently in use by lawyers' offices. To the back and right of the building is a large addition that is very much in the style of the 1930s or 40s.

Recently (over the past 2 years or so), the building has been undergoing many renovations and upgrades. Some good, some not so good. Overall I'm happy that the building is being well maintained, but some of the changes have drastically altered some of the historic details and charm of the building. The first major change was the replacing of all the original wooden windows.

I noticed this when there was only ONE original window left in place. I don't really have any additional photos of the building before the changes. I might, but it would mean hours of searching through old files on my other computer or on CD backups.



You can see that the large bottom windows had a rather unique design which was not at all copied in the replacements. By far the most annoying change for me is the loss of the curved tops. Seeing squared tops in arched openings is always a sad sight. They did keep the original wooden panels in the bottom windows.

At the same time, the cornices and mouldings were freshly painted in white (which was badly needed). You can tell in the bricks that there might have been a porch on this side long ago.

This was taken a bit later. Note the painted panels on the left windows.


This is the addition. It has a really beautiful little porch (unfortunately with a brand new door slapped in there).


More recently however, this happened, and I'm really NOT happy about it. While the old porch was not in the best shape, and it may not have been original to the house either (you can see outlines of a two-storey porch in the brickwork), I hate the look of this porch. Too square, too bulky, and what are those awful angled corner beams. This looks like it belongs on a log house. There is absolutely nothing elegant about this porch.



Next is a large duplex down the street from me on Cumberland. This place is a bit interesting because it was bought by someone I kind of know. For years it was a florist, and I can't remember what it was before that. The person who had bought it a few years ago is a lady who knows my boss, and her husband. The husband is a doctor (physiotherapist I think) and they wanted to fix up the place to live above, and have his practice and office on the main floor. When she said she was hoping to have the place ready in about 2-3 months I knew that was not going to work out.

They started working on it, and eventually it needed too many renovations and they sold it. Grant Marion (a local construction firm) bought it and flipped it. They did a fairly good job as far as I could see from the exterior, and it now has new owners.

Here was the house after the florist business closed down and the place went for sale. The random shutters and cement porch replacement were by far the most offensive changes to the building.



This was months lather after the lady and her husband had worked on it for a while. The cement landing was removed, and several of the old and previously replaced windows were changed.



This was after Marion took over the project.


Most of the windows (not all of them) were upgraded to this 6 over 1 pattern. I don't think it's historic, but I actually prefer these. They help to add a bit of detail to an otherwise plain brick building. Note the rear window.


Lastly, here's the finished house with new owners. You can see that they shortened that back window (presumably for the kitchen), they rebuilt a plain new porch following close to the original outlines in the brick, and they installed a large black metal deck at the rear, which I should photograph at some point. Overall a pretty nice job. I think the only thing I'd like to see changed is to brick-up that air conditioner hole that was turned into a small window.


The last little bonus I wanted to post is to show the new apartment building that replaced the Rosemirlea apartments that burned down a few years ago. I consider this building to be a complete eye sore. I can't understand why they chose to have the parking lot right at the front like this.

You can read about the tragic Rosemirlea fire here:



  1. In Portland, Oregon when historic houses hit the market they are being snapped up by developers who are demolishing them and replacing them with ugly modern monstrosities. Count yourself lucky they aren't tearing them down.

    1. That's really sad to hear, Sharon. I don't mind some of the renovations in this post. For the most part they're minimally invasive. I do have several other photos of much worse renos.