Description of Historic Place
Oriole Cottage is a one-and-a-half storey, Dutch Colonial Revival residence with a gambrel roof and a central entrance. It is located on the corner of Queen and Harriett streets in St. Andrews.
Oriole Cottage is designated a Local Historic Place for its architecture, for its association with its past occupants and as part of a collection of summer properties that have been well maintained and have attracted wealthy and successful members of society from locales throughout North America.
Oriole Cottage is recognized for being a good example of Dutch Colonial Revival residential architecture. The property is characterized by its gambrel roof. It has perfect symmetry, with two small dormers flanking a central dormer and a central entranceway flanked by two large windows.
Oriole Cottage is also recognized for its association with its past occupants. The date of construction is uncertain but appears to have been built within the last 30 years of the 19th century. An 1877 map shows farmer Alexander McMinn living at this location. It is known that Mr. McMinn was part owner of this property from 1871 to 1880. It is not known if the old McMinn home was destroyed, renovated or remained intact throughout McMinn’s ownership.
The most noted occupant of this home was artist Florence Mackubin, of Baltimore, Maryland. Florence obtained the property in 1909 from merchant Alphonsus O’Neill and his wife Alicia (Brooks) O’Neill. Mrs. O’Neill’s father, John Brooks, a Winnipeg hotel proprietor, had obtained the property in 1881 and may have been the first occupant of this present structure. Florence Mackubin was born in 1861 to American parents in Florence, Italy. She studied art in Munich and Paris. She was commissioned by the State of Maryland for a painting of Queen Henrietta Maria, which now hangs in the Annapolis State House. She specialized in portraits and many of her paintings still exist. She owned her “Oriole Cottage”, an appropriate name since she was from Baltimore, until the time of her death in 1918. She left the home to her sister, friend, and nephew, all of whom maintained ownership until 1927.
Oriole Cottage is also recognized as a contributing factor to the large array of summer residences in St. Andrews. This group of heritage buildings has housed many celebrities in their distinguished artistic fields. Most of these summer residents hailed from Montreal and the eastern seaboard of the United States. St. Andrews started to become a summer resort in the 1870’s when Sir Leonard Tilley and Sir Charles Tupper obtained summer homes here. In the late 1880’s and early 1890’s, the elite of Montreal, headed by William Van Horne, built and obtained vacation homes here. Summer residency became so popular in St. Andrews that the entire town was divided into two classes, with the summer residences usually being the first to be equipped with running water and electricity. Much of St. Andrews’ up-to-date infrastructure and prosperity through the years is credited, in large part, to some of the philanthropic summer residents.
Source: Charlotte County Archives, Old Gaol - St. Andrews Historic Places File, "Oriole Cottage"
The character-defining elements of Oriole Cottage include:
- one-and-a-half storey rectangular massing;
- gambrel roof;
- symmetrical placement of dormers;
- very little ornamentation or projection in eaves, window headers and dormer eaves;
- centrally located portico;
- rectangular 8/8 windows;
- stone foundation.