Description of Historic Place
Constructed in the British Classical style, Maplelawn is a handsome residence set on generous grounds that include a rare walled garden. The house, which constitutes part of Maplelawn and Gardens National Historic Site of Canada, is two-and-a-half storeys high, executed in squared coursed limestone. It has a hipped roof adorned with two end chimneys. Its restrained, five-bay façade has a central doorway framed by sidelights and an elliptical fanlight transom. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Maplelawn is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
Maplelawn is a visual reminder of the early economic history of the Ottawa valley as an agricultural community. This substantial family residence, which once occupied 200 acres of land, was an early farming estate in the Ottawa-Hull region and quickly became one of the most prosperous in the area. One of the oldest houses in the Ottawa valley, the building has continually functioned as a residence; initially it served as a home for the Thomsons and later for the Coles – both of whom represented leading families in the community, participating in its political, business and agricultural spheres.
Valued for its excellent aesthetics and functional design, Maplelawn is a fine example of a house designed in the British Classical tradition of the 18th century. It provides an excellent illustration of this phase of domestic design in Canada, and is also one of the best-preserved examples. The symmetrical and ordered appearance of the building’s elevations is characteristic of the classical style. The rectangular main façade is punctuated by five bays with a central doorway surrounded by sidelights and an elliptical fanlight. The austere exterior is enhanced by the refined elegance of the interior, laid out in a centre-hall plan, which features the original trim and a prominent, spiral staircase.
Maplelawn maintains an unchanged historical relationship with its site. The house sits in a spacious lot, set back from the road, with the original stonewalls that isolates the house from the busy street. A one-acre, walled garden can still be seen at the southeast corner of the property. Maplelawn reinforces the present character of the area as a mixed-use residential and commercial community, and as one of the oldest surviving residences in the area, it provides an important visual landmark for the community.
Sources: Janet Wright, Maplelawn and Gardens National Historic Site, Ottawa, Ontario, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 83-042; Maplelawn and Gardens National Historic Site, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 83-042.
The character-defining elements of Maplelawn should be respected.
Its excellent aesthetics, excellent functional design and very good craftsmanship, for example:
- the symmetrical five-bay front façade with a handsome casement sash and a central doorway marked by sidelights and an elliptical fanlight transom;
- the end façades which repeat the symmetry and restraint of the front;
- the exterior which is devoid of applied decoration;
- the inherent classicism which is expressed simply by careful proportioning and a strict adherence to symmetry and regularity;
- the interior layout which continues the symmetrical disposition of the exterior, with a prominent staircase featuring a gracefully turned nested newel post;
- the fine door and window trim with boxed corners, and the six-panelled doors with delicate bands of moulding within each panel, illustrating the high quality of carpentry and joinery then available in the Ottawa Valley;
- the garden which envelops a mature landscape, including a circular drive and a walled garden.
The manner in which Maplelawn reinforces the residential and commercial character of its setting in the Ottawa Valley as evidenced by:
- its classical style and residential appearance which complement the surrounding residential buildings;
- its formal character as an early and important 19th century residence;
- its location on generous grounds in the Ottawa Valley.