Description of Historic Place
Belleside, located at 230 Hillside Drive, is situated on the east side of the street, just south of the Grand River, in the former Town of Fergus, now the Township of Centre Wellington. This one-and-a-half-storey stone building is reflective of 19th century Scottish farmhouses, and was constructed in 1836 by Alexander David Ferrier.
The property was designated, for its historic and architectural value, by the Town of Fergus, under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 3259).
Belleside is significant for its association with A. D. Ferrier, one of the earliest settlers in Fergus, who arrived on June 4, 1834. His purchase of a 100-acre farm in the southeast corner of the town was only the second property transaction in the settlement. In 1836, he built a large limestone cottage on the farm. It was the first stone house built in Fergus, and with the possible exception of a log house reputed to date to 1835, it is the oldest standing structure in the town.
During the half-century that Ferrier lived in Fergus, he took an active interest in the welfare of the community. Generous in his support of good causes, he also served the community in a number of civic positions. He was appointed Superintendent of Schools for Nichol Township, in 1852, and he was the first Clerk of Wellington County, in 1854. When he subdivided his farm, in 1863, he donated a portion of his land to the Town, for use as a non-sectarian cemetery, known today as Belsyde Cemetery. Ferrier sold Belleside, in 1875, to John Beattie, proprietor of Wellington County's first private bank. Since that time it has had a succession of owners.
The design of Belleside, a large one-and-a-half storey structure with a plain low-pitched roof, was inspired by 19th century Scottish farmhouses that Ferrier likely recalled from his youth in Scotland. Though devoid of exterior ornamentation, the home was impressive in its mass and proportions. The three-bay front features a Georgian-style entrance, surmounted by a segmental arch, and originally it looked out over the Grand River. The windows are exceptionally large and broad in proportion to their height. The structure underwent three waves of renovations, ultimately resulting in the addition of a rear kitchen, the removal of a front verandah, and the replacement of the conservatory. The limestone rubble walls were covered with stucco. All of the alterations were skilfully done, offering the casual observer no indication that the house was not designed and built as seen.
Sources: By-Law 3259, Town of Fergus “Belleside”, Reasons for Designation, Township of Centre Wellington.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of Belleside include its:
- location in Fergus on original development land lending it status as the oldest stone building in Fergus as well as one of the oldest structures
- impressive mass and proportions
- gable walls projecting above the roof
- plain, low-pitched roof
- three-bay façade with a Georgian-style entrance surmounted by a segmental arch
- large, broadly proportioned casement windows
- decorative brackets at the roof edge
- proximity to the Grand River
- relationship to the neighbouring Belsyde Cemetery, created by subdividing a portion of Ferrier's original property