Description of Historic Place
Located in a villa suburb, on a landscaped site with generous gardens and a view over the lake, the Bellevue House is an L-shaped structure with a square tower entrance bay window, columned verandah, side porch and projecting balconies. It has a low-pitched roof with decorated wide scalloped eave fringe. It displays elaborate detailing and its walls are a white stucco finish. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Bellevue House is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Bellevue House is a very good illustration of the Kingston’s Western Liberties area developed as a villa suburb in the expectation of the city becoming the capital of the United Canada’s. Local businessman Charles Hales built Bellevue on this premise, renting the property at various times to government officials. In 1848, Bellevue was occupied for a year by John A. Macdonald, local Tory and corporate lawyer, Receiver General for the United Canadas and later a Father of Confederation and the first Prime Minister of Canada. Macdonald’s eldest son passed away while the family was in residence at Bellevue.
Located in the Western Liberties suburb, the best-preserved example of the villa movement in Canada, the Bellevue House is a rare, early and excellent example of Italianate architecture in Canada. Its character is defined by its Tuscan Villa style as distinguished by its irregular massing, varied materials and elaborate detailing, picturesque qualities and its interior layout designed to interact with nature.
The Bellevue House, the largest property on Centre Street is compatible with the residential character of its villa suburb neighbourhood setting and contributes a pastoral, secluded element. The dramatic colours and shadows glimpsed through the trees add a sparkle to the streetscape. As a national historic site, the Bellevue House attracts many visitors for its formal garden, its association with Canada’s first Prime Minister and the buildings romantic qualities making it a landmark to locals and tourists.
Sources: Christina Bates, Bellevue House National Historic Site, Kingston, Ontario, Federal Heritage Building Report 90-326; Bellevue House, Kingston, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 90-326.
The character-defining elements of the Bellevue House should be respected.
Its Tuscan Villa style, picturesque qualities and high quality craftsmanship as manifested in;
-its Italianate silhouette of asymmetrical massing with its L-shaped plan with square tower entrance, low-pitched roof with wide eaves, bay window, columned verandah, side porch and projecting balconies exemplifying the Picturesque qualities of irregularity and variety and creating the visual interplay of light and shadow.
-its elaborate detailing of scalloped eave fringe, window shutters, balcony canopy, brackets and balustrades, spoke-shaped verandah rails and tower finials.
-its wall construction of local limestone and the use of a white stucco wall finish, derived from the Italianate villas of British Picturesque designs.
-its interior layout designed to interact with nature with the drawing room and master bedroom facing south for the light and the view over the lake, the east-facing room receiving early morning sun and the rooms on the west receiving late afternoon sunlight.
-its colour scheme.
The manner in which the Bellevue House is compatible with the residential character of its villa suburb neighbourhood setting.