Description of Historic Place
The Frank H. Joyce house, also know as the Holy Rosary Convent, is located at 3975 Riverside Drive East on the southwest corner of George Street in the former Town of Ford City/East Windsor, now part of the City of Windsor. It is a well preserved brick and half-timbered Tudor Revival style house, built in the 1920s for industrialist Frank Henderson Joyce. It is recognized for its heritage value by City of Windsor By-law 142-2007.
The Frank H. Joyce house is representative of homes that were being built for prominent citizens along Riverside Drive in Ford City during the early part of the 20th century. The house was built for industrialist Frank Henderson Joyce who made his fortune in the newly emerging automotive industry. The five car garage and servants' quarters, built in the early 1920s, were incorporated into the main house, built in 1926-1927. The house was sold in 1937 to Thomas E. Walsh, an advertising agency owner. Walsh's agency was the first to produce Chrysler advertisements when they came to Canada. It was sold to the Western Ontario Broadcasting Co. (now CKLW) in 1944. Reportedly, the company wanted to move the radio station there, but the neighbours objected, so the house was leased to John Bankhead the United States Vice Council in Windsor. In 1952 it was acquired by the Sisters of St. Joseph for a convent. After the Sisters purchased the property in 1952, John Boyde, a well-known Windsor architect who did a lot of work for the Catholic Church, was employed to plan a new wing off George Avenue and to renovate the main house.
The use of the house as the Holy Rosary Convent from 1953 until 2006 is also significant. The Convent has been a residence for Sisters who taught music and art and for teachers in elementary and high schools throughout the City of Windsor. Later on the Sisters became involved in other ministries, including pastoral work in hospitals and parishes, in counselling and outreach to the aged, the poor and the marginalized.
The house on the property, designed by renowned local architect George Masson of the firm Sheppard and Masson, is architecturally significant as a well-preserved example of the Tudor Revival style – which reached its height of popularity between the World Wars. The house has design features typical of the style: asymmetrical, grounded, with a steeply pitched gabled roof, and a mixture of materials such as red brick, cut limestone, and half-timbering with stucco infill. Windows are tall with multiple panes and the front door is wooden with an arched cut-stone surround. Bay windows are found on the first floor, west of the main entrance, and on the front east gable end. Chimneys are tall and decorative. The iron fence along the north and east property line, installed in 1953, is from the Sister's House of Providence in London.
The house is located on the south side of Riverside Drive, a two-lane scenic parkway that follows the shore of the Detroit River from the Ambassador Bridge in west Windsor to the Town of Tecumseh border in east Windsor. Windsor's developmental history is evident along the “Drive” – from former railway lands in central Windsor, to Hiram Walker & Sons industry in the former Town of Walkerville, to the Ford Motor Company facilities in the former Town of Ford City (later East Windsor) and the upscale residential areas to the east. Many of the fine homes built along Riverside Drive during the Ford City era have disappeared and have been replaced by new low to medium-density suburban housing or by high-density condominiums further to the east. The Frank H. Joyce house is a remnant of the original development along Riverside Drive and due to its long use as a convent, coupled with its aesthetic value, it is a landmark structure in east Windsor.
Source: City of Windsor By-Law 142-2007.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Frank H. Joyce house include its:
- Tudor Revival style: asymmetrical, grounded, with a steeply pitched gable roof
- The ornamental half-timbering with stucco infill
- The brick construction with cut limestone trim
- The tall windows with multiple panes; leaded stained glass panels in the library and stair landing windows
- The bay windows (first floor, west of the main entrance, and front east gable end)
- The wooden front door with arched cut stone surround
- The tall decorative chimneys
- The wrought iron fencing
- Its prominent location facing Riverside Drive East, a scenic parkway that follows the Detroit River
- The generous landscaped, treed setback from Riverside Drive that allows an unobstructed view of the house from the street