Home / Accueil

Allison House and Grounds

54, Adolphustown Park Road, Town of Greater Napanee, Ontario, K0H, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2003/05/16

Allison House front facade. Tower and porch have been removed; OHT, 2005
Allison House, front facade
Allison House front facade showing original tower and porch, late 19th century.; Queen's University Archives
Allison House front facade, late 19th century.
Allison House, contextual view from the northeast; OHT, 2005
Allison House, view from the northeast

Other Name(s)

Allison House and Grounds
Adolphustown Park/Allison House

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/02/22

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Allison House is located within Adolphustown Park, a small provincial recreational facility of approximately 30 hectares on the shore of the Bay of Quinte in Adolphustown, 19 kilometres east of Picton. The park and house are owned and operated by the Bay of Quinte Branch of the United Empire Loyalist Association (UELA). Allison House functions as the Loyalist Cultural Centre, Museum and Archives for the UELA. The Memorial Cemetery for the United Empire Loyalist Association is located within the Park and it is generally acknowledged that the park property also contains archaeological resources of pre-historic and historic human activity.

The exterior and interior features and surrounding property of the home are protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement as are the lands of the Park as a whole (2003).

Heritage Value

The histories of Allison House and the park property are closely connected with the early history of the United Empire Loyalists in Canada. In 1784 a large contingent of United Empire Loyalists from New York landed at Hagerman's Point, now the western end of the Park. This area was among the first in Ontario to receive Loyalist settlers following the American Revolution. Early plans from the 1790s show that the Park is located on the original town lots surveyed for Adolphustown. David Wright Allison, a prominent local farmer, businessman and descendant of the early Loyalists had his home built in 1877. Allison was the Warden for Lennox and Addington County in 1881, served as its Member of Parliament from 1883 to 1891 and was well-known as a political adversary of Sir John A. MacDonald. For many years Allison was a significant landowner in the county and his home, fitted with the latest conveniences, was considered among the finest in the region. A cemetery is located northwest of the house and Loyalists were interred there as early as 1784. The Park possesses archaeological resources particularly in the vicinity of Hagerman's Point, along the natural verge at the edge of Hagerman's Creek, and in the western half of the Park in general.

Allison House, designed by Robert Gage, is significant as an example of Italian Villa style architecture that was popular in Ontario during the mid to late 19th century. The style is strictly residential and is characterized by an irregular roofline punctuated by a tall tower or campanile. The house also exhibits stylistic elements of Victorian eclecticism and regional variations specific to the County. Gage also designed Royal Military College in 1877 and the Watkins Wing of Kingston General Hospital in 1898. He was originally a carpenter and chose to decorate the exterior of the two-storey house with lavish vergeboard or gingerbread trim, Gothic Revival touches and exposed timbering on the tower (now missing). An ornate porch with a flat roof provided for a second level balcony which originally sat to the left of the main entrance. A complex roofline echoes an irregular floor plan. The interior of the home has clearly delineated zones for guests, family and servants with detailing and finishes that reflect this hierarchy. The public or entertaining areas are at the front of the house, the private family space is in the centre and the working and servants' areas are contained in the rear wing.

Adolphustown Park is set on a long and narrow site of gently rolling land, bordered by the marshy shoreline of Adolphus Reach on the Bay of Quinte to the south and Highway 33 to the north. Townline Creek bisects the eastern portion of the property. The dry areas of the Park are generally covered with mowed lawn and planted with shade trees. Allison House is centrally located with its front facade facing north toward the park entrance allowing the house to be seen immediately upon arrival. Manicured lawns, gardens and trees surround the home. The southern facade of the house faces toward Adolphus Reach and a boat launch is located on the shore where the original David W. Allison dock would have been. Occupants of the house would have enjoyed a view of the dock and ships sailing on the Bay. The Memorial United Empire Loyalist Cemetery is located to the northwest of the house on a tree-lined piece of gently sloping land.

Sources: Conservation Easement Files, Ontario Heritage Trust

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of Allison House and Grounds include its:
- location fronting Highway 33 to the north that makes it easily accessible by car
- orientation of Allison House that allows the front facade to be viewed from the Park entrance
- location on a site that gently rolls down to the shoreline which ensures that the cemetery and house sit on high and dry land
- location on the shore of the Bay of Quinte to the south that permits views of the water
- numerous shade trees planted throughout the Park and gardens surrounding the house
- public accessibility through its use as the Loyalist Cultural Centre, Museum and Archives and is therefore open to the public
- public accessibility of the Park
- its cemetery
- exterior design of the house that was a good representation of the late Victorian Italian Villa style
- two out of four original chimneys that remain have masonry bands accentuating their bases and tops, a treatment that is specific to the area
- irregular roofline that was originally punctuated by a tower with dormer that aligned with the front entranceway
- deep eaves and oversized roof cornices that are supported by paired modillions
- central east gable end on the front façade that has an intricately carved bargeboard pediment ornament with pendants
- louvered oculus that is located on the attic level within the central gable on the front facade
- three blind Gothic arches that are placed over the windows in the upper east bay and Gothic windows on the south gable
- spherical dentils that decorate the soffit areas over the bay windows that are specific to Lennon-Addington County
- red brick laid in running bond, with lintels laid in soldier courses and beaded mortar joints on all brickwork
- rectangular dado brickwork with herringbone pattern coursing on the spandrel above the central, east bay window
- recessed decorative brick work that suggests columns or piers on the front southeast corner
- Gothic arch doorframe that surrounds the front doorway and etched lights within the front double doors
- rock faced blocks that make up the rusticated masonry foundation
- indoor plumbing, original gas lighting, and radiator heating that was modern for the period
- hierarchy of room layout that is evidenced by their location, size and sophistication of finishes
- service wing located at the rear of the house that has easy access to all levels of the home
- plaster cornices and medallions that decorate the ceilings
- main wooden staircase that has turned balusters, a carved handrail and cut out ornamentation applied to the stringers
- cut and frosted glass in the double doors that are located in the front (east) vestibule
- ornately decorated cast iron radiator covers with marble tops
- four original fireplaces that are topped with faux-finished slate and marble mantle pieces
- wood doors and window trims, baseboards, floor boards, paneled doors and window shutters that are all original to the house ( Note: woodwork on the main floor rear west wing is not original)




Recognition Authority

Ontario Heritage Trust

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Ontario Heritage Foundation Easement

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1784/01/01 to 1784/01/01
2003/01/01 to 2003/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type


Historic or Interpretive Site


Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer

Robert Gage



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Conservation Easement Files 10 Adelaide Street East Toronto, Ontario

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places



Advanced SearchAdvanced Search
Nearby Places