Description of Historic Place
The Harry Peters House is an imposing two-and-a-half storey residence with a surrounding veranda and several Colonial Revival decorative elements. The original architecture of the basic structure, built about 1815, was a typical early one-and-a-half storey cottage construction of the post-Loyalist period. This house was home to several generations of the Peters family. It changed hands circa 1910 at which time it was enlarged considerably, making it a curious combination of construction techniques while still maintaining the appearance of an early period home.
The Harry Peters House is designated a Local Historic Place for its association with the Peters family and for its architecture.
This residence was possibly built by successful young rural lawyer Harry Peters for his “city” wife. Harry was the son of Loyalist James Peters. Written and internal evidence is consistent with 1815 as its date of construction. The inclusion of large “Rumford” designed fireplaces, as well as a basement kitchen, seems to fit with this date. The kitchen ell and the dormers were additions from somewhat later in the 19th century. Photographs from the 19th century show this residence as one-and-a-half storey building with typically Victorian-era gingerbread trim. It is significant that throughout that century, the house was part of a working farm with barns and outbuildings nearby. Also, toward the turn of the 20th century, the Misses Peters ran a boarding and finishing school for young ladies here.
About 1910, the owner at the time, Holly Bridges, decided that he would be an inn keeper and added another full storey to the house, making the upstairs rooms full-height and adding a spacious attic which he never got around to dividing into rooms. After subsequent use by various owners over many years, the residence was purchased around 1990 by a specialist in colonial architecture. His restoration included work on the plaster molding, hand-wrought hardware for doors, wide pine floors, fireplaces, etc. After his untimely demise, it became the property of the current residents (2008) who have completed the restoration with great attention to authentic detail both inside and out.
The interior of the home has many significant features: large, high-ceilinged square rooms and a wide hallway; a gracious, well balanced staircase; wide floor boards; decorative woodwork and plasterwork throughout the original part of the house; early authentic built-in cupboards, and a massive operating cooking fireplace in the kitchen with built-in ovens at the side. The eight working Rumford style fireplaces with federal style mantels are amazing, as are the three “cells” or enclosures in the large fieldstone basement. Theories about these enclosures have been advanced, but they remain an anomaly yet to be been explained.
The house maintains a pastoral setting on a large lot with black locust trees, lilac bushes and typical flower beds overlooking Gagetown Creek and Gagetown Island.
Source: Queens County Heritage Archives – Gagetown Historic Places files
The character-defining elements that decribed the Harry Peters House include:
- rectangular two-and-a-half storey massing
- wooden clapboards;
- quoins on the corners of the ground floor;
- corner boards with capitals on corners of the second storey;
- lateral gable roof with returned eaves;
- pedimented dormers on the front façade and gable dormers on the rear façade;
- symmetrical placement of rectangular six-over-six windows;
- central tripartite window on the second storey of the front façade;
- simple window surrounds and entablatures;
- veranda spanning three façades with a pent roof and decorative bracing;
- splendid front door facing the creek, with hand-forged hardware, a fanlight and sidelights;
- impressive windows;
- fieldstone foundation.
- spacious rooms;
- wide floor boards;
- decorative plaster work;
- graceful, plain staircase;
- hand-wrought door hardware;
- cooking fireplace;
- other Rumford fireplaces;
- thick fieldstone cellar walls with chambers of undetermined historic use.
- sloping front yard;
- native black locust trees;
- view of Gagetown Creek and Gagetown Island;
- circular driveway;
- appropriate plantings.