Description of Historic Place
The Windmill Tower stands prominently on Windmill Point, a height of land near the town of Prescott, where it overlooks the old King’s Highway and the St. Lawrence River. The 62 foot (18.9 meters) tapered tower is constructed of random coursed stone and is crowned with a cast iron lantern. Decorative elements include the louvred windows that rise in paired, vertical bands and the arched doorway of the main entrance. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Windmill Tower is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Windmill Tower is one of the best examples of a structure associated with the Rebellion of 1837-1838. Built as a gristmill, it was one of the few wind-powered mills in English Canada. During the Rebellion of 1837-38, it was the scene of an important battle against Americans who supported the Rebellion. A small invasion force of insurgents attempted a landing at Prescott in 1838, which led to a battle at the Windmill. Milling operations ceased permanently as a result. To defend against further invasions, the tower was occupied for a year by British troops. In 1872, the tower was converted to a lighthouse to facilitate the use of the St. Lawrence as a transportation route. The Historic Sites and Monuments Board designated the tower as a national historic site of Canada in 1923.
The Windmill Tower is valued for its good aesthetic design, and as a rare surviving example of an English-built, wind-powered mill in Upper Canada. Its simple design and stately profile are a result of its British origins. The mill is unique in its later adaptation to a lighthouse in 1872, when the octagonal cast-iron lantern was added. As a result of its excellent functional design, Windmill Tower has served successfully both as a grist-mill and as a lighthouse, and exhibits features of both. Good craftsmanship is evidenced in the coursed rubble-stone walls that are about 0.9 metre (three feet) thick at the base.
The Windmill Tower is compatible with the historic character of the Battle of the Windmill National Historic Site of Canada, is well-known to staff and visitors to the site, and is a familiar regional landmark
Sources: Sally Coutts, Battle of the Windmill National Historic Park, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 88-076; Windmill Tower, Prescott Ontario, Battle of the Windmill National historic Site, Prescott, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 88-076.
The following character-defining elements of the Windmill should be respected.
Its good aesthetic, excellent functional design and good materials, as evidenced in:
-the simple, tapering tower silhouette and massing crowned by an octagonal cast iron lamp;
-the exterior walls of coursed rubble-stone that are about 0.9 metre (three feet) thick at the base;
-the segmentally-arched doorway and the louvred windows arranged in vertical bands;
-the interior walls, which step back at each floor level forming a ledge.
The manner in which the Windmill Tower is compatible with the historic character of its Battle of the Windmill National Historic Site of Canada setting and is a familiar local landmark, as evidenced by:
-its overall design and materials, which contributes to its historic surroundings, and role as a key component of the Battle of the Windmill National Historic Site of Canada, all of which make it a familiar landmark to the local community and visitors;
its exposed location that gives visual prominence to the tower from both the river and the highway.