Description of Historic Place
Built in the early 1870s, the Cheney House, 176 Bronson Avenue, is located on a primary thoroughfare in central Ottawa, at the west termination of Gloucester Street. This two-and-a-half storey late 19th century residence is situated beside another brick dwelling, and together they form an integral part of the historical fabric of this particular area of Ottawa's centre.
The Cheney House was designated for its cultural heritage value under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, by the City of Ottawa Bylaw 71-80.
The Cheney House is an outstanding and relatively rare example of the Neoclassical mixed with the Italianate style. It is historically related to Ottawa's lumber industry and is contextually associated with the development of this particular area of central Ottawa.
This building is an excellent example of a residence that mixes Neoclassical and Italianate elements, two classically-inspired styles which were popular in the late 19th century. Both of these styles continued the legacy of classical architectural styles that was started with the Georgian traditions and brought to Upper Canada by United Empire Loyalists. These classically-inspired architectural influences are characterized by regular and symmetrical designs, as well as individual elements borrowed from classical precedents.
The Cheney House features a number of Neoclassical elements, including an elliptical fan arched front entrance and shallow gable facing the street. This Neoclassical inspiration is supplemented with Italianate elements, such as round-headed windows and the used of patterned brick. The Cheney House can also be seen as precedent setting in terms of its exterior materials. Notably, when this house was constructed, it was one of only a few brick residences in Ottawa. Very shortly after the construction of the Cheney House, the use of brick exploded in popularity and it eventually became the building material of choice from the 1880s onwards.
This residence has a strong association with Ottawa's lumber industry due to the original owners and builders of the residence and its first tenant. The Cheney House was constructed sometime in the early 1870s for William G. Perley and Gordon B. Pattee. Perley and Pattee owned a lumber mill at the Chaudiere Falls, not far from the location of this house. Their successful lumber business was one of the companies which drove Ottawa's most important early industry. The house was most likely occupied by Josiah P. Cheney, a foreman at the lumber mill. He originally rented the building but eventually bought it in 1883 and remained there until the turn of the century.
The Cheney House is one of the few remaining homes on what was the west side of Concession Line (now Bronson Avenue), once the Levius Peters Sherwood Estate. It is located atop Ashburnham Hill, named in honour of Colonel By's daughter, Esther March, who married the Honorable Percy Ashburnham. Colonel By instigated the growth of Ottawa as the engineer responsible for the building of the Rideau Canal and the original land owner partially accountable for the surveying of the city.
Due to a number of ownership problems, this piece of land was not developed until later in Ottawa's history. Its situation was ideal, close to the central area of Uppertown and near the lumber mills which dotted the area around the Ottawa River. This building, along with its neighbour, was one of the first houses built on this particular stretch of land, shortly after the long standing ownership disputes were settled. It is related to both the neighbouring property and the residential area which developed adjacent to it, some of which still remains.
Sources: City of Ottawa file: PD002-OHD4300/BRON00176: City of Ottawa By-law 71-80.
Character defining elements that reflect the heritage value of the Cheney House include its:
- red brick exterior
- shallow front gable roof with overhanging eaves
- elliptical fan arched front entrance
- voissoirs over the windows and door in contrasting brick
- quoins in contrasting brick
- round-headed two over two sash windows
- veranda with simple posts
- rectangular plan with asymmetrical front entrance
- location on a large lot on the former Concession Street, now a primary thoroughfare in central Ottawa
- location on Ashburnham Hill adjacent to an historical brick residence