Description of Historic Place
Castle Kilbride, located at 60 Snyder's Road West, is situated on the north side of Snyder's Road West in the heart of the former Village of Baden, now the Township of Wilmot. The property consists of a two-storey brick residence that was constructed in 1877, a heart-shaped circular drive and an outdoor privy.
The property was designated by the Township of Wilmot in 1985 for its heritage value under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 85-62).
Castle Kilbride is associated with the most prominent family of the Village of Baden, the Livingstons. Built by James Livingston in 1877, Castle Kilbride was named after his birthplace in Scotland, East Kilbride.
James Livingston made a significant contribution to the economic development of the Township of Wilmot and beyond. Coming to Canada at age 18 in 1856, James took up farming and soon after worked at a flax mill in the Village of Conestogo, in the County of Waterloo. In 1864, James and his brother, John, established the firm J and J Livingston and by 1867 they operated a flax mill, in Baden. By 1872, they were operating a linseed oil mill and within five years they expanded and were running mills in six nearby villages. The Baden linseed oil mill was the largest of its kind in Canada and James, arguably the most successful resident of Wilmot, became known as the “Flax and Oil King of Canada”. After John's death, in 1895, James established the Livingston Linseed Oil Company, expanding his holdings across Ontario and the United States. The Company operated under the direction of the Livingston family until the late 1940s.
James also established ownership of several banks and had an influential political career. He served as the Reeve of Wilmot Township, from 1878 to 1882, was elected as a Member of the Provincial Parliament, in 1878, and was elected as a Member of the House of Commons, in Ottawa, in 1882.
Castle Kilbride was the residence of the Livingston family for over 100 years. Today, it stands as a testament to the entrepreneurial drive of the Livingstons and the industrial and economic history of the Township.
Castle Kilbride is a rare jewel within the Township of Wilmot. Built in the Italianate style, the two-storey residence was constructed using a centre-hall plan with three major sections: the main house and two wings. Typical of the Italianate style, the residence features a tall belvedere, which crowns the hipped roof, a centre gable, wide overhanging eaves, with paired bracketing and a symmetrical façade. The one-storey rear wing is accented by single brackets and a boxed cornice, with a frieze beneath. Of note are the two projecting bays on the façade and the two-storey verandah, on the east elevation, of the first wing. In addition, the two-door outdoor privy, which was once situated to the rear of the residence but moved to its west side, features the same Italianate detailing as the main residence. The residence now features a rear addition that houses the Township's administrative offices.
The modest detailing of the Italianate exterior is in stark contrast to the opulent Victorian detailing of the interior. The residence has 15 rooms, of which many have original gas and electric light fixtures, imported Venetian marble fireplaces, custom made furniture and interior artistry. Many of the wall paintings are in the “trompe l'oeil” style, which are paintings with a three dimensional appearance. The library is considered to be the gem of Castle Kilbride. It features the earliest, most elaborate and detailed mouldings, patterns and murals. The murals are by H. Schasstein, the artist who was responsible for the majority of the interior artistry. Castle Kilbride has been described as “one of the finest surviving dated examples of wall painting in a domestic residence”, in Canada.
Castle Kilbride dominates the landscape, with its grand construction on a very large lot, facing Snyder's Road West, which is unusual for the small town-centre streetscape. The gated entrance leads to a landscaped heart-shaped circular drive that visually directs the focus to Castle Kilbride. Its majestic and prominent appearance provides a terminating north view on Mill Street and is an impressive landmark for the Village of Baden, now the Township of Wilmot.
Sources: Township of Wilmot, By-law 85-62; Architectural Survey, unknown.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of Castle Kilbride include its:
- centre-hall plan with three sections, including main house, first wing and rear wing
- two-storey New Hamburg Brick and Tile construction
- fieldstone foundation
- four single-stack brick chimneys on the main section of the house, as well as a chimney on the back wall of the first wing
- belvedere crowning the hipped roof with a centre gable
- symmetrical and balanced façade design
- open porch with a solid rail, supported by turned posts on wood piers with round-headed mouldings, and rope turn posts with Corinthian capitals on similar piers
- wide overhanging eaves with paired bracketing and cornices
- two-storey projecting bays on the façade with frieze and paired brackets
- second-storey six-bay centrally paired windows
- two-storey verandah on the east elevation of the first wing supported by turned posts with brackets
- single brackets and boxed cornice with frieze beneath, on the rear wing, which features a door and a window
- west elevation which is the same as the east main house elevation
- two-door outdoor privy, west of the main residence, featuring quoining, frieze and bracketing details
- fifteen principle rooms, many including gas and electric light fixtures, Venetian marble fireplaces, and interior cherry wood folding shutters
- intricate mouldings, patterns and murals painted by H. Schasstein
- custom made furniture, such as a desk and bookcase set in the library, which was made by Krug's in the nearby City of Kitchener
- “trompe l'oeil” style paintings giving a three dimensional appearance
- second-storey hallway ceiling paintings and domed skylight, one of which is the original stained glass
- situation on a large and wide lot facing Snyder's Road West, which is not uniform to the surrounding streetscape
- heart-shaped circular drive
- terminating north view from Mill Street.