Description of Historic Place
The Thomas Dales House (also known as Walter Playter House) was built in circa 1880. This two-and-a-half storey picturesque Italianate villa house, located at 182 Church Street in Newmarket is constructed of painted red brick and rests on a stone rubble foundation.
The Thomas Dales House has been designated for its heritage significance by the Town of Newmarket, By-law number 1983-35.
The house, located at 182 Church Street, was constructed around 1880 for Thomas Dales, an organ builder, but is best known as the residence of a prominent Newmarket merchant, Walter Playter. Walter Playter, son of a local physician and direct descendant of an United Empire Loyalist family, operated a dry goods and general store at the south west corner of Main and Botsford street during the 1880s and early 1890s. Upon his death in 1894, the property was left to his widow, Elma Widdifield, who continued to live there until 1919. Throughout its history, the building has always served as a residence.
The two-and-a-half storey Thomas Dales House rests on a rubble stone foundation, and is sheathed in red painted brick veneer. It is a striking example of the 19th-century picturesque Italianate architectural style. The building has an asymmetrical plan with the emphasis on the vertical and a three bay facade with a wing projecting across the one end of the main body. The stepped-back shaped plan allows additions to be made at will. The principal entrance is located in the square tower found at the intersection of the two parts. The square tower is the dominant feature of the Italianate design's hipped roofline which rises to form a flat rooftop, while decorative brackets support the wide eaves. Rounded head openings, typical Italianate characteristics, are found throughout, especially the paired windows above the bay in the projecting wing and shuttered doorway in the second storey of the tower. The exposed sides of the tower are sheltered by a single storey veranda, which protects the main two leaf paneled doorway. The multiple elevations of the dwelling also incorporate picturesque Gothic detailing, including the vertical thrust of the wings, the projecting bay window with recessed lozenges, and stepped labels over major openings. The deep gable ends of the roof are decorative with boldly carved gable bargeboard, which also appears on the broken roofline of the tower. This trim, with its simple chiselled pattern, trefoil cut outs and drooping pendants, serves to soften the harsh exterior lines. In keeping with the Italianate period, interest is concentrated in the upper portion of each gable a fluted circlet replaces the tie beam, a vertical knopf descents from the apex and a turned finial caps the peak. The ornamental iron crest work crowns the roof of the tower and the bay window is designed to counteract the effect of the vertical elements.
Later additions include a single storey shed on the north elevation and a wood shed. The veranda appears to be replaced, as its column supports are not compatible with the Italianate design. The rear half of the veranda has been enclosed, and the second storey of the back porch has been converted into a sun porch and fitted with an exterior staircase.
Sources: Heritage Newmarket file: 182 Church Street.
Character defining elements that illustrate the heritage value of the Thomas Dales house include its:
- picturesque Italianate architectural style with stepped-back shaped floor plan, a hipped roofline that rises to form a flat rooftop and a square tower
- asymmetrical plan with emphasis on the vertical and a three bay facade
- rounded head openings
- shuttered doorway that leads to the second storey balcony
- leaf paneled doorway, which is sheathed by the single storey veranda
- picturesque gothic detailing incorporated into the building, including stepped labels over openings, boldly carved gable bargeboard and ornamental iron crest work crowning the roof of the tower and the bay window