Description of Historic Place
The building at 2318 Front Road, known as Van Norman-Guiler House, is situated in the County of Norfolk. The one-and-a-half storey brick building was designed in the Regency architectural style and was constructed in ca. 1842.
The exterior, selected elements of the interior and the scenic character of the property are protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement. The property is also designated by the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk (separated into Haldimand County and Norfolk County) under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-Law 3-85 amended as By-Law 19-86). The site of the foundry has been recognized with a plaque by the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board as a nationally important historic site.
Located in the village of Normandale, Van Norman-Guiler House is set back from the road and neighbouring houses in a semi-rural environment. Numerous mature trees provide privacy at the front of the house, while the sloping terrain of the 3.72 acre property reaches into a wooded area, at the rear, which extends to the shore of Lake Erie. Potter's Creek runs through the west and south (rear) end of the property visually separating the house from its neighbours. In keeping with the Regency style, the house was designed to make the most of the surrounding natural beauty. The house retains views of the neighbouring woods and creek. It is also in close proximity to the general store, restored post office, union hotel and Wesleyan Methodist Church reflecting the size and prosperity of Normandale in the 1840s.
Van Norman-Guiler House is significant for its association with Joseph and Romaine Van Norman and the early development of Normandale. Joseph Van Norman came to the Normandale area in 1821 and took over the Long Point Furnace foundry, established by John Mason, in 1816. He established his firm, the Van Norman Company, in 1822, and named the community Normandale. The foundry flourished, supplying iron goods to communities all over Upper Canada (later called Canada West, then Ontario) as well as the United States.
The Van Norman-Guiler house was built for Joseph's son Romaine (1819-1903) in ca. 1842 to the designs of an unknown architect. Romaine managed the foundry established by his father from 1840 until the iron ore supply was depleted in the 1850s. He left the area in 1859. The house was later occupied by the Guiler family for many years.
Van Norman-Guiler House is an example of a Regency style cottage. Though Regency cottages were common in many parts of the province, they were rare in Normandale. One-and-a-half storeys high, three bays wide by three bays deep, the Van Norman-Guiler House has a square footprint. Constructed of pale red brick, the front façade is clad in stretcher bond, the sides using Flemish bond and the rear using common bond. The upper floor is lit by a clapboard belvedere with two four over four windows on each of the four sides and capped with a hip roof set into the main floor's hip roof. East of the belvedere, a single chimney extends from the hip roof. The foundation is of rubble stone and due to the slope to the rear of the land, has a ground level basement entry, at the rear. The front entrance is marked with Greek Revival style detailing with two Doric pilasters that frame the six-paneled door and support an entablature. Below is a transom surrounded by sidelights flanked by engaged columns. A veranda with a shed roof, at the front of the house, is a later addition, replacing an earlier veranda with a bell-cast roof and chamfered posts. All windows are large pairs of French doors. There is no evidence to suggest that the veranda originally extended to all three sides, which would have allowed these doors to function as entrances or exits. The use of French doors as windows is distinctly a feature of the Regency style which was meant to provide access to the exterior and integrate the interior and scenic views and grounds. The centre-hall plan revolves around a single-run staircase with 19 risers leading to the three roomed belvedere. The ground floor parlour features Greek Revival moulded pilasters, flanking the doors and windows and supporting heavy entablatures with dentil details. The rest of the house has Regency style woodwork with two-paneled doors, and mouldings varying from room to room. The kitchen also contains a pressed tin ceiling. Wide pine floors are used throughout the house. In the early 1990s a large board and batten-clad addition was made to the rear of the house.
Source: Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Van Norman-Guiler House include its:
- Regency architectural style
- square footprint with three bays deep and three bays wide
- three different brick bonds, stretcher on the façade, Flemish bond on the sides and common bond on the rear
- fifteen sets of French doors (used instead of windows)
- clapboard belvedere with two four over four windows on each of the four façades
- hip roof of the belvedere set into the hip roof of the main floor
- rubble stone foundation
- front entrance marked with Greek Revival detailing with two Doric pilasters framing the six-paneled door supporting an entablature below a transom and surrounded by sidelights flanked by engaged columns
- early 20th century veranda with a shed roof at the front of the house
- centre hall plan revolving around a single-run staircase with 19 risers leading to the three roomed belvedere
- ground floor parlour featuring Greek Revival moulded pilasters flanking the doors and windows supporting heavy entablatures with dentil details
- Regency style woodwork with two-paneled doors, and mouldings varying from room to room
- floor boards of an early fireplace in the parlour
- pressed tin ceiling in the kitchen
- wide pine plank floors used throughout the house
- location set back from the road in a semi-rural location within the community of Normandale
- numerous mature deciduous trees providing privacy at the front of the house
- sloping terrain of the property extending into a wooded area at the rear of the house and all the way to the shore of Lake Erie
- portion of Potter's Creek running through the west and south end of the property visually separating the house from its neighbours
- retention of the Regency style principle of extensive views focusing on the site's natural beauty
- proximity to the general store, restored post office, union hotel and Wesleyan Methodist Church reflecting the size and prosperity of Normandale in the 1840s