Description of Historic Place
The Adamson Estate, now a public park and campus for the Royal Conservatory of Music, backs directly onto Lake Ontario, at 850 Enola Ave., in the City of Mississauga. This 13.2 acre parcel, is what remains of the original 300 acre summer property, of the Cawthra family. It contains a two-storey manor house, in the Colonial Revival and Flemish style, a wooden gatehouse or folly, a barn, a pet cemetery and the remains of a pool.
It has been recognised for its heritage value by the City of Mississauga By-law 461-78.
The remnants of the original estate, with its house, barn outbuildings and grounds are a significant waterfront cultural landscape. They provide a window into the past, of an important pioneer family, and the lifestyle associated with an early twentieth century country estate.
The Adamson Estate is associated with the Cawthras, a prominent family involved in the development of York, (now Toronto) and Toronto Township (now Mississauga). The Crown granted Joseph Cawthra, an English immigrant from Yorkshire, approximately 200 acres of land shortly after the 1805 Mississauga Purchase. Cawthra, a prominent York merchant, did not settle this land, but used it primarily as a summer residence, renting the majority of the property, in 1830, to William Duck for farming purposes. The property remained in Cawthra's ownership until 1971, with Duck's descendants farming it until the 1940s. Mabel Cawthra received the property as a wedding gift upon her marriage to Agar Adamson in 1899. After spending the First World War in Flanders, the Adamsons returned to Canada, in 1919, choosing to live permanently on the subject land. They replaced the c. 1860 cottage with a new manor. Sproatt and Rolph designed it in the Colonial Revival style with Flemish elements. The Adamsons requested Flemish features be included to commemorate their years abroad.
The two-storey house, completed in 1920, is comprised of two long gabled structures joined together and extended on the east by an orangey. A red tile roof caps the pale stucco walls. Metal windows are plentiful and multi-paned; most are casement. The semi-circular blind above the upper-storey windows adds height and detailing. Cut stone adorns the peak of the gables and lakefront entrance, referencing Flemish bell-cast gables.
The gatehouse or folly was constructed in 1904 as a summer nursery, doubling as a guesthouse. It is one of only three gatehouses of this design in Canada. (The others are at the Ottawa residences of both the Governor General and the Prime Minister.) It is also Canada's only wooden folly. Thus, this structure is valued for being an architectural rarity. It spans the driveway that leads to the rear of the main structure. The green roof shingles and wood trim stand out against the cream-coloured stucco and complement the exterior colours of the house. An exterior staircase accesses the upper floor and leads to a wrap-around balcony.
Since the 1960s, the barn was used for theatrical productions, seating 100, with the granary serving as the bar. This use continued when the City of Mississauga acquired the site in 1971. The Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) began leasing the main house in 1996 and the folly shortly thereafter. The school converted the house into classrooms and the folly into a studio. Mississauga Parks and Recreation retained the barn for storage. The City created a pet cemetery by gathering monuments disbursed throughout the property, into one place.
Source: CS.08-ENO, Enola Avenue 850, City of Mississauga.
Character defining elements that reflect the heritage value of the Adamson Estate include its:
- unusual design of the two-storey main house, which incorporates Flemish details into the Colonial Revival style
- cut stone detailing on the gabled wings
- multi-paned metal fenestration
- rarity of the gatehouse's design in being constructed over an existing roadway
- uniqueness of the gatehouse as the only known building of its type in Canada constructed of wood
- pet cemetery
- remains of a pool