When I moved to Milton five years ago, I immediately fell in love with the old houses here. I've been wanting to put up a web page about them for some time, but what finally got me to do it was reading a wonderful book called "Looking for Old Ontario" by Thomas F. McIlwraith (University of Toronto Press, 1997). If you've ever wondered how those classic old 'Ontario farmhouses' came to look the way they do, or why the buildings here look so different from those just south of the border, or just wanted a vocabulary to describe some of your own favorite old houses, then this is definitely the book to read.
I selected these particular homes and buildings for a variety of reasons - some illustrate a particular style or building material, some have historical significance, and some are just my own personal 'Lottery Houses' (houses I intend to buy as soon as I win the lottery). Many of them have plaques from the Milton Historical Society showing their construction date and original owner, and most are within a block or two of my house.
For the moment, I must content myself with living in an only marginally older house, which I have also shown here. It's just old enough to have a lot of problems, but not quite old enough to make it worthwhile fixing most of them. Still, it's a nice little place with big trees and a big yard, and it sure beats living in some boring cookie-cutter 70s pre-fab.
(click on the picture for a larger image)
|This gorgeous two-story brick home was built in 1855, and was owned by Dr. Clarkson Freeman, local MD and former mayor of Milton. Illustrations in the old historical atlas show that it once had a complete wrap-around porch (when I win the lottery, I'll re-build it). One nice detail - the bit of carved woodwork above the remaining porch has an English rose on one side and a Scottish thistle on the other.|
|This is probably one of the most beautiful, impeccably maintained Victorian houses in Milton. Built in 1882 for William Caldwell, it sits on a huge property a couple of doors down from the Freeman house. The street is just around the corner from my house, so I get to walk by them frequently and drool. On the corner of the property stands an enormous white oak, at least 10 feet around the trunk, that I suspect must be the oldest tree in town.|
|Built in 1855, this is one of the many fine stone houses to be found in Milton. The town was always known for its brickworks, but being at the foot of the Niagara Escarpment, builders also made extensive use of the local limestone. One point made in McIlwraith's book is that builders often considered the sides of a building to be 'invisible', and only did a nice finish on the front. You can see that here - the sides facing the street (it's a corner house) have nicely hewn blocks, while the other two sides use natural, irregular stones.|
|This is one of several houses of this particular style and colour scheme in my neighbourhood, with the brick, white trim, and fancy blue or green shingle work. I suspect that they were built by the same person, although it may have just been the fashion at the time. This one was apparently built in 1874 for the local veterinarian. There is some beautiful stained glass in the front windows, and I especially like the board-and-batten carriage house / garage on the left.|
|For some reason the local historical society keeps referring to this one as a V-shaped house, but it's actually Y-shaped - there's a third wing out the back. I've never seen anything like it. The plaque says Cornelius Foreman, 1855, but the story I heard was that it was built for two brothers - they each got one wing and shared the middle. It sits right on Sixteen-Mile Creek, and although it looks like a small lot, it runs back a fair ways, and holds a two-story garage with a Granny suite, with the lower story of an old barn hidden behind that. It nearly killed me when this one came up for sale recently. I sat around for days trying to figure out some way we could afford to triple our mortgage. Sigh.|
|Whenever someone from town asks me where I live, I just tell them I'm two doors up from 'The Turret House', and they know exactly what I mean. The house was built in 1879 as a railway station, and was later moved to its current location. I've had a glimpse inside once or twice, and the interior is all classic Arts and Crafts-style.|
|The Oddfellows Hall, just behind Knox Presbyterian Church. The yellow colour of the brick is unusual for Milton, and there's some wonderfully fancy multi-colour painted woodwork around the front which is in desparate need of some serious restoration. I really hope someone does something about it before it disintegrates completely.|
|This is my friend Jim's house. It was built in 1887 for John Bastedo, a descendant of the Loyalist Bastedos (and a very distant cousin of mine, as it happens). Jim and Pat have done an incredible job of restoring this place, inside and out. The veranda was recently reconstructed after they consulted with an architectural historian, and the interior is like walking into a Dickins novel, especially around Christmas. I am deeply jealous.|
|Grace Anglican Church. The original frame church was built in 1851, and now serves as the parish hall in behind the stone church, which was built in 1895. I don't know what it is about Anglicans in southern Ontario, but they sure do love building these great Norman piles. The roof is slate, and has recently been restored.|
|The classic Gothic Ontario farmhouse style done in local limestone. This lovely 1878 house is next to the Anglican church on Main St., and was originally owned by (not surprisingly) a stonemason. Just goes to show that stone houses don't have to look heavy and clunky.|
|Waldie's Blacksmith Shop, built in 1865. The shop was run by several generations of Waldies, and apparently was still open as late as the 1970s. The Waldie family still owns it and lives in the adjoining house. This is the big Milton Historical Society project right now. They are shoring up the walls, pouring a new foundation, and will eventually open it as a functioning blacksmith shop again. This is good, because in its current state it looks like it's ready to collapse at any moment. This shot was taken the day they cleared out all the old tools, anvils, horseshoes, and assorted rusty metal so they could get at the walls. The construction is interesting (if somewhat unstable) - it's a technique called 'nogging', which is basically timber frame with rubblestone and mortar filling in the walls. Some of the rubble used here is actually broken brick.|
|And this is my little blue house (it's actually smaller than it looks). It was built some time in the 1930s, and although hardly significant architecturally, it's a perfect example of an add-on house. It started as a tiny three-room bungalow, and over the years it acquired a basement, a kitchen and bathroom in the back, and an upper half-story courtesy of some shed dormers. The previous owners told me that it had been built when the fellow on the lot behind burned his own house to the ground while heating some roof tar on his stove. The neighbours felt sorry for him and built this house for him. I have no idea if it's true, but it's a lovely tale. (and just to show how small a town Milton is, it turns out that Bob, my mechanic, used to live here)|