Visiting the Grover-Nicholls House, Peterborough, Ontario: Greek Revival Building Dating From Circa 1847
A pre-Confederation geometric spirit
The name of this heritage property in Peterborough, Ontario — Grover-Nicholls House — refers to the families which successively lived at the property for several decades of the 19th century. The property dates from circa 1847 — i.e., in pre-Confederation Canada West — when it was built for P. M. Grover, active in business.
It is thought that the particular design for this building followed a design in a work by Minard Lafever dating from 1833.
Features of the building include its very conspicuous portico, and pediment. Sometimes referred to as being in Greek Revival style and even with Palladian influence, the property exhibits distinctive square pillars. Such pillars are known to have been well regarded by builders and their clients in the 19th century because they were less costly to produce than the rounded variety (1). The symmetrical wings of the building at the elevation set back from the Rubridge Street.
The historic value of the building was recognized by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario in 1971 and by the City of Peterborough in 1977 (2).
At a more subjective level, in terms of locally typical historic buildings, I am almost reminded more of New England rather than of Ontario. (One could almost imagine a plaque, sometimes adorned with red, white and blue bunting, declaring that such-and-such a local personality raised a regiment which fought in the American Civil War.)
However, in terms of the actual history of the building, it was used by Masons from 1849 until 1853. Interestingly, the Masons then vacated the building for a full 97 years and then returned as the new owners of the building in 1951.
As one goes past this rather distinctive, heritage property, the clean lines of the building bring the French term 'esprit géometrique' to mind.
May 29, 2020
(1) Source: Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario.
(2) See also: https://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=1552
Some sourcing: Wikipedia
Also worth seeing
Other attractions in Peterborough include: Little Lake with its marina and distinctive water jet fountain; the Peterborough Lift Lock, dating from 1904 — the highest of its type in the world — is a National Historic Site of Canada at the Trent-Severn Waterway; the Peterborough Museum and Archives affiliated to Trent University and Fleming College; the Canadian Canoe Museum; Cox Terrace National Historic Site of Canada; Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park is situated within Peterborough County; and many others.
Uxbridge (distance: 79.8 kilometres) is designated the Trail Capital of Canada, because of the existence of over 220 kilometres of trails in protected countryside in the area surrounding the town. Thomas Foster Memorial Temple is a striking structure. The Uxbridge-Scott museum specializes in genealogy and agricultural heritage. Nearby Leaskdale has the former manse residence of Lucy May Montgomery and her clergyman husband, now a museum.
Kingston (distance: 181.8 kilometres): visitor attractions include: the 1844 Neoclassical City Hall; Fort Henry; Bellevue House; the Frontenac County Courthouse; Portsmouth Village; the Flora MacDonald Confederation Basin; ferry trips to Wolfe Island depart from close to the Downtown area; Kingston/Norman Rogers Airport has an historical display based on a former RCAF Harvard and a VC-winning WW2 RN aviator; and many others.
How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. (Distance from Toronto Pearson Airport to Peterborough: 145.2 kilometres). Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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