Description of Historic Place
The Lawrence-Singer House, also known locally as The Gingerbread House in reference to its “Gingerbread” detailing, is an “L”-shaped dwelling located at 204 East Main Street, in downtown Welland. Built around 1890, the house features a stained glass front bay window, steeply pitched gables and an Italianate tower, displaying a blend of architectural styles.
The property has been recognized for its heritage value by the City of Welland under By-law 9424.
The Lawrence-Singer House is located along East Main Street, a major route through the city of Welland. The house sits close to the downtown core, which would have been beneficial to the homeowners, particularly Mr. Lawrence who was quite involved in the business functions of the downtown and also operated his company from another location along East Main Street. The street continues to function today as an integral part of the business and residential community.
The historical value of the Lawrence-Singer House lies in its connection to Alfred E. Lawrence, a prominent businessman in Welland at the turn of the twentieth century. Built around 1890, it was home to Mr. Lawrence, who arrived in Welland in the late 1800s to take possession of a furniture and undertaking business. Lawrence became a well-known businessman in downtown Welland for 17 years, holding a strong position in the community. During the last 10 years of his business, which was also located on East Main Street, Lawrence was in partnership with George Sutherland, the Mayor of Welland. The house was later sold to Mary L. Singer, and remained in the Singer family until 1978.
The Lawrence-Singer House exhibits its architectural value through a display of various styles that have been employed throughout its construction and maintenance. Evidence of the late Victorian style is clear in examining its eclectic and highly ornamented features. One of the most notable elements of the house is found in the abundance of “Gingerbread” on the porch and gables. The influence of another late Victorian style, the Queen Anne Revival, is also recognizable in the stained glass front bay window, as well as the elaborate carved relief patterns and diaper work, stained glass and “quarter wheel” glazing on the front door. The irregular “L”-shaped plan, steeply pitched gables, and small front porch, tucked into the curve of the “L”, are inspired by the Ontario “Cottage Gothic” style. The house also features an Italianate “Tuscan” tower set within the porch, at the “L”, topped with a Mansard roof. This type of roof was often called Second Empire and towers of this style were considered a mark of the owner's success.
The interior features “paint-grained” woodwork on the doors and fireplace mantle, display surviving evidence of a finishing technique abandoned in the early 1900s. The elaborate exterior and interior detail highlight the influence of the home's earliest owner, Mr. Lawrence. The house exhibited his carpentry talents and exemplified his successful business, in the Welland community.
Sources: Notice of Intention to Designate, Welland City Hall, 1990; Report on Designation of 204 East Main Street, 1990; “Lawrence-Singer House”, Heritage Welland Committee, 2006; The City of Welland By-law 9424.
Character defining elements that reflect the heritage value of the Lawrence-Singer House include its:
- location along East Main Street, a major route through Welland and an integral part of Welland's business and residential community
- abundance of “Gingerbread” features on the porch and gables
- stained glass front bay window, elaborate carved relief patterns and diaper work, stained glass and “quarter wheel” glazing on the front door
- irregular “L”-shaped footprint, steeply pitched gables and small porch which suggest an influence of the Ontario “Cottage Gothic” style
- Italianate “Tuscan” tower with Mansard roof
- “paint-grained” woodwork on interior doors and fireplace