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Naismith House

4968, County Road 29, Almonte, Ontario, K0A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1992/04/29

View of the façade and north side showing the reconstructed Regency verandah - 2001; OHT - 2001
Oblique View to the southeast - 2001
View of the verandah on the north side of house showing bell-cast slope of the roof - 2003; OHT - 2003
View of the verandah - 2003
View showing the original Regency verandah in dilapidated state - 1925; Meredith Colborne Powell, [photograph], 1925, PA-026835 Library and Archives Canada
Oblique View to the southeast - 1925

Other Name(s)

n/a

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1850/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/11/06

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The building at 4968 County Road 29, known as Naismith House, is situated on Highway 29 on the northern edge of the Town of Mississippi Mills. The one-and-a-half storey stone building was constructed in 1850 in vernacular Georgian and with Regency Style elements.

The exterior of the building and the scenic character of the property are protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement. A provincial plaque was erected at the property commemorating James Naismith in 1965. The property is also designated by the former Township of Ramsay (amalgamated with the Town of Almonte and the Township of Pakenham to form the Town of Mississippi Mills in 1998) under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (Bylaw 89-1797).

Heritage Value

Located at the corner of Highway 29 and James Naismith Way, Naismith House's historical and architectural value is enhanced by its rural setting. Set back from the highway, the house retains its original character by maintaining its farmland setting near woods and the Mississippi River.

Naismith House is associated with early, local settler Robert Young, basketball inventor James Naismith, and physical education pedagogue R. Tait Mckenzie. In 1850, Scottish emigrant Robert Young built the house (replacing his 1832 structure) for his wife and eleven children. One of his daughters Margaret, married James Naismith Sr. and occupied the original wood-frame house on her father's property. She had three children, including James Naismith Jr. (1861-1939). When she and her husband died from typhoid, their children lived in the stone house built in 1850. This is where James Naismith spent his childhood. James attended a local one-room schoolhouse and Almonte High School before beginning his studies at McGill University in 1883. There, he excelled at athletics while studying theology. Upon his graduation in 1890, Naismith enrolled in the international Y.M.C.A. Training School in Massachusetts where he became an assistant director of physical education. It was while working in this capacity that he developed his sport, 'basket ball', in 1891. The original game had 13 basic rules with a ball and two round baskets. In 1895 he left the school and went to Denver to study at the University of Colorado, where he earned a medical degree in 1898. He then became the director of gymnasium and professor of physical education at the University of Kansas until his retirement in 1937. In 1936 he was a guest of honour at the Berlin Summer Olympic Games where he awarded the first ever medals in the newly inducted Olympic sport of basketball.

Naismith House is also associated with R. Tait McKenzie (1867-1938), who came to live with the Naismiths for a time after his father's death. He was an athlete, teacher of physical education and a medical doctor as well as a life-long friend of James Naismith. Both men received national level honour at the Canadian Sports and Fitness Administration Centre in Ottawa in recognition of a lifetime of excellence in service to youth in the fields of mental, physical and spiritual development. Naismith house was sold by Robert Young's son in 1902 and has had multiple owners since.
Naismith House is an example of Georgian vernacular architecture with Regency Style elements. Naismith House's original occupant and possible builder was Robert Young, a stonemason from Scotland. The one-and-a-half storey house has a central hall plan with a centre gable above the front entrance. Constructed of stone, the house has even stone coursing on the front facade and south wall, and random rubble brought to courses on the north and east walls (the east wall is covered in cement parging). Windows and door openings have been detailed and have stone lintels. The corners of the house have raised quoins of dressed stone. The recessed front entrance has sidelights and a transom with delicate mullions in an asymmetrical pattern. The ground floor window sashes are 12 over 12 panes while those on the second floor are six over six. The gable roof has cedar shingles, gable-end chimneys, large eaves troughs and fascias and small elegant eave returns on the gable ends. The verandah (reconstructed in the 1990s based on photographs of the original) is typical of the Regency style and wraps around three sides of the building. The verandah roof is covered with a bell-cast sloping roof supported by thin pairs of columnettes, wide lattice work under the banister and scrolled brackets supporting the fascia.

Source: Ontario Heritage Trust Easement files.

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of Naismith House include its:
- association with early settler Robert Young
- association with basketball inventor James Naismith
- association with R. Tait McKenzie, important figure in the history of physical education in Canada
- Georgian vernacular architecture with Regency style elements
- symmetrical facade with centre gable above the front entrance
- even stone coursing on the front (west) facade and south wall
- random rubble stone walls brought to coursed stone construction on the north and east walls
- cut stone lintels
- raised corner quoins of dressed stone
- recessed front entrance with delicate asymmetrical transom and sidelight windows
- ground floor double hung window sashes of 12 over 12
- second floor double hung window sashes of 6 over 6
- low-pitch gabled roof with cedar shingles
- gable-end chimneys
- large eaves troughs and fascias with delicate eave returns
- regency verandah wrapping around three sides of the house
- bell-cast sloping roof of the verandah
- thin pairs of columnettes of the verandah with wide lattice work under the banister and scrolled brackets supporting the fascia all made of wood.
- rural setting at the corner of Highway 29 and James Naismith Way
- location on and proximity to farmland and woods
- proximity to the west of the Mississippi River.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Ontario

Recognition Authority

Ontario Heritage Trust

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Ontario Heritage Foundation Easement

Recognition Date

1992/04/29

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1996/01/01 to 1996/01/01
1902/01/01 to 1902/01/01
1965/01/01 to 1965/01/01
1989/01/01 to 1989/01/01
1992/01/01 to 1992/01/01
1832/01/01 to 1832/01/01
1867/01/01 to 1887/01/01
1861/01/01 to 1861/01/01
1861/01/01 to 1883/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land
Settlement

Function - Category and Type

Current

Historic

Residence
Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Ontario Heritage Trust Property Files Ontario Heritage Trust 10 Adelaide Street East Toronto, Ontario

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

HPON07-0030

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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