Description of Historic Place
The Schoerg Homestead, located at 381 Pioneer Tower Road, is situated on a ridge overlooking the Grand River Valley in Pioneer Tower West, City of Kitchener. The two-and-a-half-storey red-brick building was designed in the Mennonite Georgian style, and constructed circa 1830 by David Sherk.
The property was designated for its heritage value by the City of Kitchener under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 2003-227).
With largely unobstructed views to the Grand River Valley, the Schoerg farmhouse is located on the top of a fertile ridge of land. The site continues to feature characteristics which originally influenced its settlement by Mennonite Pioneers, including the rich fertile soil, a mixture of dense forest and open meadows, and its close proximity to the water. Due to the context and history of the site, the Schoerg Homestead is arguably one of the most significant cultural heritage landscapes in Waterloo Region, and is commemorated with a memorial tower to the west of the site.
The Schoerg Homestead is part of the earliest inland, non-native settlement of what would become Waterloo County. Before its settlement by Mennonite Pioneers, the land on which 381 Pioneer Tower Road is now located was part of a much larger tract of land set aside by the British Crown in 1784 as a reserve for the Six Nations Indians. In 1797, the Six Nations Indians led by Joseph Brant sold a portion of the Reserve to Colonel Richard Beasley, a United Empire Loyalist who in turn, began to offer the land for sale. The land attracted Mennonite farmer Joseph Schoerg in 1800, and he purchased 261 acres. Together with his father-in-law Samuel Betzner Sr., who purchased land immediately adjacent to Joseph's, the Schoerg and Betzner families established the first permanent settlement in inland Upper Canada. Joseph passed the farmstead onto his son David in 1835. David Sherk (the Schoerg name was simplified to Sherk) was born in 1801. He was reported to have been the first non-native child born in what would become Waterloo Township, and subsequently he became the first Canadian born minister of the Mennonite Church. The principle structures of heritage interest and extant on the site are all attributed to having been built by David Sherk.
The Schoerg Homestead is a classic representation of the Mennonite Georgian style. The house is a two-and-a-half-storey dwelling, constructed of hand-made red-brick, with a two-storey wood frame wing to the rear. The structure is in sound condition and has been altered very little from its original appearance. The brick portion of the home is set upon a foundation of rough squared granite stone. The fieldstone foundation of the two-storey rear wing suggests an earlier farmhouse may have existed at this location.
The barn, constructed circa 1830, was a classic example of a Pennsylvania Mennonite bank barn and the remains of the granite and limestone foundations can be seen just west of the farmhouse.
Source: 381 Pioneer Tower Road, Heritage Property Report, City of Kitchener, December 7, 2004.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Schoerg Homestead include its:
- location on the top of a historic ridge of land featuring views of the Grand River Valley; once a part of the original Six Nations Reserve, set aside in 1784 by the British
- southward view of the Grand River Valley which still features characteristics that originally influenced the site's settlement by Mennonite pioneers, such as fertile soils, dense forests, open meadows, and close proximity to water
- side gable roof with a two foot overhang, moulded wood soffits and frieze, and finely proportioned return eaves
- north façade's original entrance porch with pediment, turned posts on square bases, and built in benches to either side
- main entrance consisting of a four-panelled wooden door, three-paned sidelights and five-paned transom set into a deep panelled embrasure
- windows with wooden sills and brick lintels, and original 6 over 6 interior sash
- two-storey rear wing set seven feet on the west side of the building to accommodate a two-storey verandah with square posts and balusters
- entrance to the annex off the verandah fitted with a paneled door and Gothic style windows