The is past year a couple of wonderful newspaper pieces on Lount’s Castle, once upon a time, know as The Oaks, and currently located at 25 Valley Dr. in Barrie, Ontario. This week’s Examiner Marg Bruineman wrote an excellent front page story on Barrie’s preeminent castle.
Normally an old house have its listing price drop is not newsworthy, and certainly does not merit a front page lead. However, this is not the average case. The once glorious Second Empire house, with decorative slate mansard roof, ornate turret and classical window molding, and glass conservatory, has seen better days.
This is where the castle is so very different. Built for William Lount in 1878.”The Oaks” was built as Lount’s summer home. It was the grandest of the grand when it opened. William Lount was a lawyer and had a practice in Toronto and Barrie. He was elected a member of the first parliament of Ontario in 1867*. Later was appointed a High Court Justice in 1901.
Today it is almost impossible to believe the oppulence that Lount’s Castle provided, but the large glass conservatory and 3rd floor ballroom attest to the status and prestige that was created. A driveway from what is now Sunnidale Rd. arched up the curving driveway to the front door. Today if you stand in the lane way of Kersey Park, and look towards the doorway of the Castle, you can get a feel for how majestic the driveway must have been. It must have been extraordinarily glamorous to arrive by horse and carriage arriving in black-tie and silk gowns for a Harvest Ball.
Entering the mansion via the front wrap around balcony ( now long gone) the double doors would open into a entry area with 12 foot ceiling and a solid Ontario Cherry wood staircase; the newl post so ornate and grande it resembles a bapitsmal font. I note this in the preesnt tense as this magnificent Ontario Cherrywood, three story wraparound stair case, still stands in all its glory.
Passing by the closed doors to bedrooms and parlours ( now apartments) the Harvest Ball guests would climb the stairs to the third floor, where you would enter in the a ballroom .
As you mounted the staircase it began to swirl Now a days the parlours and bedroom suites are blocked into apartments. Marg Bruniman in her story ____________describes one of the apartments.
it is likely that It is storyThe opulent stairway greeted you and you climbed the 2 stories to the 3rd floor ballroom.
it must have been to read up in y
about heritage style this beautiful old house ( featured in our header) the story
*He won against Angus Morrison in 1867 and lost to William Ardagh in 1871.
1. Keeping up the ‘Castle’
MARG. BRUINEMAN Barrie Examiner January 22, 2010.
excerpt - link to full article
The city is in the throes of putting this through council, coincidentally while what could be Barrie’s most interesting home is about to change hands. Although it appears it’s going back to the drawing board
As Jerry says, there’s only one castle in Barrie. But, in a way, it represents the other remaining old buildings in the city.
When Harris Steel’s former china shop on Collier Street came tumbling down last summer, the general feeling was one of shame.
Earlier generations saw fit to get rid of the original train station near Memorial Park, the fire hall, city hall, the American Hotel along with several privately-owned buildings.
But that was before most of Barrie’s current population arrived.
Since the tumbling of the Steel China and Gift Shop building, there’s been some movement to develop a heritage registry — a list of 81 buildings has been compiled.
The registry buys city hall 60 days when someone applies for a demolition permit. Right now, the city must issue a demolition permit within 10 days of the application, if all the necessary paperwork is place, explains heritage consultant Su Murdoch.
2. Heritage buffs fear for castle’s future – Barrie Advance Sept. 22, 2009 Laurie Watt
excerpt link to full article
A Barrie landmark is up for sale.
Lount’s Castle, a 131-year-old Victorian home that overlooks the city from the northwest, is listed at $725,000.
Because it’s zoned multi-residential and there’s no historical designation, Heritage Barrie vice-person Caroline Smith fears someone will demolish it and build condos.
“What worries me is the question of whether the lot is more valuable as simply land? Should a demolition permit be requested, there is absolutely nothing to stop the city from simply stamping ‘approved’. The building is naked, with no protection under the Heritage Act,” said Smith.
In June, just weeks after a failed attempt to stop demolition of a downtown Victorian building, city council ignored a Heritage Barrie recommendation to designate Lount’s Castle or even add it to a heritage registry. Adding it to a registry would have added a 60-day notification period before a
demolition permit could be issued.
“Astonishingly, council chose to delay once more and send Heritage Barrie’s recommendation off into the mists of staff review. I can’t tell you how worried I am about the fate of this completely unprotected building as it goes on the for-sale block,” she said.
Even in its day, 25 Valley Dr. stood out from among the other homes built by the community’s privileged. Indeed, the home was so splendid that it was termed a “castle” by the citizens of Barrie.
Today, the privately-owned Lount’s Castle is something of an historical and architectural treasure.
“Heritage Barrie has recently recommended the home, along with 96 Sunnidale – Woodlawn – be designated as a building of historic significance,” explains Eric Hodgins of Barrie’s Planning Services Department. “The recommendation is currently under evaluation.”
“A decision on whether the property will in fact be designed as a building of historic significance is pending, and should be reached by autumn,” explains Hodgins, noting that the homeowners will be a party to the discussion. “It’s important that we develop a comprehensive approach to how Barrie designates buildings, so that its fair to everyone involved.”
It’s important to note that designation bylaws do not prevent alteration nor does it require the owner to restore the building. The purpose is solely to ensure that any proposed changes are in keeping with the reasons for designation.
A designation for Lount’s Castle will cement what everyone already knows: the Victorian home is one of Barrie’s historic treasures.