Description of Historic Place
The Amos Biggar House is the oldest home within the Region of Halton, having been built in 1816 in the former Township of Trafalgar. The one-and-a-half storey Classic Revival structure, originally constructed as a private residence, is a good example of a Loyalist farmstead and features white clapboard siding, multi-paned sash windows and a medium pitched gable roof. Known today as Cork House, a museum and showroom, it is located near the intersection of Neyagawa Blvd. and Dundas St. West in the Town of Oakville.
It has been designated as a heritage property under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 2002-054).
The Amos Biggar House was originally located "around the corner" at 502 Dundas St West, where the main section was built by Amos Biggar (a United Empire Loyalist) in 1816, a year after he bought the property from Daniel Shawson, the original land grantee. At this time, the Town of Oakville itself did not exist and it is believed that this is the oldest house within the Region of Halton (then known as Trafalgar Township).
In 1843, the property was sold to Philip L. Box, who enlarged the house, adding two single-storey wings on either side. The property went through a succession of owners, including George King, an English immigrant who raised his family of nine children in this house. King farmed the land, wheat being the main crop, and his children continued the farming operations until the mid-1930s.
The house is the only surviving structure of a time when the area boasted one of the most prominent settlements in Trafalgar Township, that of the Village of Sixteen Hollow. Located a few hundred yards west of the creek, in the valley of Sixteen Mile Creek, the village was settled by George Chalmers, who built a mill and a dam on the creek in 1827. By the 1850s, Sixteen Village (its popular name) had a growing population, several shops and a three-storey hotel, all serviced by a stagecoach run along Dundas St. West. The opening of the Great Western Railway in the mid-1850s immediately impacted Sixteen Village and within 20 years, little was left of this once thriving community.
In the mid-1990s, a new residential and commercial subdivision grew around the Biggar House and in 2000, the building was moved to its present location on Neyagawa Blvd., just a few hundred metres from its original location. Its owner, the Jelinek Cork Group, was founded in 1855, opening its Oakville office in 1951. Working with cork, a natural resource, for over 150 years, Jelinek is intimately aware of the need for stewardship of the environment. The Biggar House represented an opportunity for Jelinek to practice conservation of the built environment and is an excellent example of adaptive re-use of a residential structure. In 2003, after completing extensive restorations, the Cork House was opened, operating as a museum, a factory outlet and a showroom for cork products. Visitors can see the history of the house, the history of cork production and the varied products that can be created from cork.
As a good example of the Classical Revival style, Amos Biggar House is characteristic of a Loyalist farmstead. One-and-a-half storeys in height, the central portion was built in 1816 in a rectangular long facade layout, with a classically-inspired central doorway, internal chimneys at either end of the structure, multi-paned double-hung sash windows with pediments and exterior walls of clapboard siding. The two side wings, both one storey in height, were added sometime after 1843, incorporating the same design, construction material and fenestration.
Source: City of Oakville, By-law 2002-054; Heritage File – 2441 Neyagawa Blvd.
Character defining elements that reflect the heritage value of the Amos Biggar House include its:
- landmark status as the oldest surviving house in Halton Region
- Classic Revival architecture depicting centrally positioned main entry, medium-pitched gable roof and clapboard siding
- pedimented sash windows, two internal chimneys
- two single-storey additions
- successful adaptive re-use of a single family residence to a commercial use