Description of Historic Place
The Steckle Homestead is located at 811-831 Bleams Road, west of the Strasburg and Bleams Road intersection, in the City of Kitchener. The two-storey red-brick building was designed in the Georgian style and was constructed, in 1833, by John Steckle I.
The property is designated, for its historic and architectural value, by the City of Kitchener, under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, (By-law 83-116).
The Steckle Homestead is a unique resource within the Region of Waterloo and historically it is associated with the Steckle family. The farm has been in the Steckle family for close to two centuries with only four family owners, beginning with John Steckle and passing to Henry Steckle, John Steckle II, and finally Dr. Jean Steckle. John Steckle I, was born in 1802, in Germany, and eventually settled in Waterloo County. In 1833, John Steckle built the original two-storey log structure. Two wells were dug on the property, and the proximity to potable water was the reason for choosing to locate at this site.
The homestead underwent extensive agricultural changes during Henry Steckle's ownership, before it was passed on to John Steckle II and his wife Susannah Chase. John Steckle II took interest in maintaining a large woodlot with a wide variety of native hardwoods, including butternut, red oak, hickory, sugar maple, beech and black walnut. This woodlot has been maintained since 1910. In 1967 he donated a portion of the site to the City of Kitchener, as a conservation area, now known as Steckle Woods. Dr. Jean Steckle purchased the homestead from her parents in 1978. She recognized the importance of the heritage value of the homestead and, in 1988, a non-profit organization was established to preserve the site. It is the location of agricultural, educational, and recreational programs.
The Steckle Homestead reflects the Georgian style in design but was built with logs. This unusual two-storey log construction has been covered with clapboard and brick, but the original lines are still evident. Much of the heritage value is gleaned from the historic stone outbuildings that surround the farmhouse. These were built between 1833 and 1845. Before his death, John Steckle I added many of these stone and wood outbuildings to the property including a barn, summer kitchen, cheese house and butchery, forge and wood shed. In addition, the main barn can be traced back to 1891.
Sources: City of Kitchener By-law 83-116; Reasons for Designation, City of Kitchener, 1983; J. Steckle Heritage Homestead Study, Andre Scheinman, February 28, 1994.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Steckle Homestead include its:
- continuous use by four generations of the Steckle family as an agricultural and woodlot site
- log construction
- brick cladding
- stone outbuildings
- portion of the barn that dates back to 1891
- artesian well located in the front lawn
- proximity to Steckle Woods Conservation Area
- location in Waterloo County