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Smith-Geddes House

390, Main Street W., Grimsby, Town of, Ontario, L3M, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1978/05/02

View of the front façade with stable building in the background and original porch visible – 1911; [photograph], 1911, PA020781, Library and Archives Canada
View of the main façade – 1911
View from the escarpment including some context – 2006; OHT, 2006
View from the escarpment – 2006
View of the interior central staircase and door to rear and dining room – 2006; OHT, 2006
View of the interior – 2006

Other Name(s)

Smith-Geddes House
Thornfield Hall
The Stone House

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1876/01/01 to 1878/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/11/20

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Smith-Geddes House, 390 Main Street West, is situated in a rural area to the west of the town centre, in the Town of Grimsby. The two-and-a-half-storey stone building was designed in the Italianate style and was constructed between 1876-1878.

The exterior, selected elements of the interior and the scenic character of the property are protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement (1978).

Heritage Value

Located to the west of the Town of Grimsby, Smith-Geddes House was built on a flat area of land amidst orchards of peach and cherry trees. The rural location, close to Lake Ontario to the northeast and the Niagara escarpment to the southwest, creates a unique natural setting. The Smith-Geddes House is set amongst many other fruit-producing farms in the area.

Born in 1828, John Henry Smith was a descendent of one of the area's earliest settlers, United Empire Loyalist John Smith. John Smith came with his wife and children to the Grimsby area in 1787, and settled on a land grant between the Niagara escarpment and Lake Ontario. Smith-Geddes House was built for his son, John Henry Smith, a businessman and entrepreneur, between 1876 and 1878. It is an important example of a high-Victorian country house. Known as John Henry 'California' Smith because of the fortune he made in the California Gold Rush, in 1849, John Henry Smith later founded a successful gold mine in Colorado. Upon his return to Grimsby, John Henry had his house built on land that was originally part of his grandfather's estate. John Henry and his wife lived in the house for over thirty years, until their deaths. The house remained in the family and came into the possession of the Geddes family, relatives of the Smiths. Dora Geddes was a great-great granddaughter of Loyalist settler John Smith and she lived in the house for over thirty years, until her death. The house was bought by the Germann family, who retained ownership for over forty years, subdividing the house into apartments. The house is now a single family home.

Smith-Geddes House is an example of the Italianate architectural style, rendered in a vernacular form and introduced in The Canada Farmer journal, in 1865. The two-and-a-half storey stone house has a five bay façade with a projecting frontispiece, containing the main entrance of wood paneled doors, a transom of coloured glass and the etched initials of John Henry Smith. Paired round headed windows above the centre door and a smaller pair on the third floor are under a projecting gable, with a carved-wood vergeboard. The hip, patterned-slate, roof has corniced edges of wood brackets, supporting the soffit. Four chimneys of quarry-faced stone, laid in random ashlar, project from each corner of the house and are decorated with pediment mouldings along the stacks. The two flanking bays of the main façade have pairs of square-headed windows on the first floor and segmented arches on the second. The stone work is quarry-faced ashlar with projecting rusticated quoins and window surrounds. A projecting wing on the west side is capped with a gable. A wide bay window with a gable roof projects from the east side.

The interior is laid out in a centre-hall plan with an ornate wood staircase. The interior woodwork is walnut and oak, with carved mantels in both the east parlour and the dining room. The hallway and stairs are paneled in cherry. The wood windows have louvered shutters that fold into reveals matching the paneling of the windows and the detailed baseboards are found throughout. The hall, east parlour and dining room have plaster mouldings and plaster ceiling medallions. Elaborate cast-iron grills surround the radiators in each of the rooms. The original porch has been removed and a number of small additions have been made to the rear of the house, including a fire escape. A period stable on the property contains many of the elements of the house, including the hip roof, gables and brackets. Built of wood it has lost its original cupola, vergeboards and patterned slate roof.

Source: OHT Easement Files.

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Smith-Geddes House include its:
- layout as a Victorian country estate.
- Italianate architectural style features
- quarry-faced random ashlar masonry
- five bay façade with projecting gabled frontispiece
- hip roof
- flat headed arches of the ground floor windows
- segmented arches of the second floor windows
- transom window with coloured and etched glass, bearing the initials of - John Henry Smith
- two projecting gables with carved-wood vergeboards
- large bay window on the east side
- patterned polychromatic slate roof
- elaborate bracketed cornice supporting a broad overhanging eave
- four chimneys of quarry-faced ashlar with pediment mouldings on the stacks
- rusticated quoins
- intricate wood staircase in the main hall
- centre hall plan
- dark hardwood floors in the east parlour and dining room
- high baseboards
- paneled doors
- white plaster crown mouldings
- white plaster ceiling medallions
- intricate wood mantels
- dark tiles of the east parlour fireplace
- louvered shutters that fold into deep reveals
- cast-iron grills surrounding the radiators
- paneled reveals of the doors and windows
- rural setting between Lake Ontario and the Niagara escarpment
- location amidst orchards of peach and cherry trees
- proximity to other fruit producing farms on the edge of the Town of Grimsby
- substantial set back from the road
- views of the house from the road and from the escarpment




Recognition Authority

Ontario Heritage Trust

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Ontario Heritage Foundation Easement

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1920/01/01 to 1920/01/01
2004/01/01 to 2005/01/01
1978/01/01 to 1978/01/01
1978/01/01 to 1980/01/01
1787/01/01 to 1787/01/01
1956/01/01 to 1956/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type



Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer




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




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