Description of Historic Place
Russell Cottage is a Regency style dwelling built in separate phases, with the first phase pre-dating the 1830s. This single-storey house features a gable roof and an open porch with diamond patterned Stamford treillage. It is situated on a corner lot at 3174 St Patrick Avenue and Brock Street.
The property is designated by the City of Niagara Falls under By-law No. 95-255.
Russell Cottage is associated with several prominent people during the early development of the Stamford community . Early owners of the house included Rheddy Cusack and merchant and saddler Andrew Rorback. Rorback was well-known during the early 1800's as the operator of Rorback's Tavern, now a heritage property under the name of Whirlpool House. The second phase of construction is believed to have been conducted by the third owner of the cottage, Matthew Ottley, between 1830 and 1835. In 1855, the house was leased to Mary Jane Russell, who is assumed to be the daughter of Reverend John Russell, the first minister of the Stamford Presbyterian Church. Grace Russell, widow of Reverend Russell, occupied the house in 1855 presumably under the care of Mary Jane Russell, and the house is named in her honour. In front of the house is an old tombstone laying face up in front of the verandah. It is unknown whether or not the tombstone marks a grave.
The long, single-storey building has two distinct phases of construction, followed by later additions and embodies a blend of different architectural styles that add to its heritage value. The first phase, now the south extent of the current front façade, sits on a stone foundation with its original gable end and front door facing Brock Street. This section of the house was built using logs for floor joists and roof rafters. The second phase of construction sits perpendicular to the original house with its gable end facing St. Patrick Avenue. The construction of this section is sawn lumber with plaster walls on split accordion lath. The most dominant architectural feature is the attractive treillage verandah, characteristic of the Regency period. The intricate treillage work is an arrangement of diamond-patterned wooden bars with elliptical openings formed by a curved arch.
The property is also valued for its large rear yard with mature coniferous and deciduous dress, including the Carolinian woodlot species, or “coffee tree”.
Sources: By-Law No. 95-255, Planning and Development, City of Niagara Falls, 1995; 3174 St. Patrick Avenue Report, Planning and Development, City of Niagara Falls, 1995.
Character defining elements that reflect the heritage value of Russell Cottage include its:
- old tombstone lying face up in front of the verandah
- original portion of the house sitting on stone foundation with its original gable roof
- log floor joists and wood rafters in the house's original section
- masonry in the basement, containing a recessed area, presumably an early cooking fireplace
- second phase of the house on a stone foundation with walk-out at grade
- large reception room off the front door on St. Patrick Avenue
- walls of plaster on split accordion lath
- treillage verandah at the front of the house, characteristic of Regency period architecture, with diamond-patterned wooden bars with elliptical openings formed by curved arches
- large rear yard with mature coniferous and deciduous trees including the Carolinian woodlot species, or “coffee tree”