Description of Historic Place
This imposing two storey house is located off a winding driveway, near the dead end of Victoria Street South, in the south west of Port Hope. Surrounded by a large lawn, with two tall spruce trees, positioned in front of the entrance portico, the Penryn Homestead is one of several remaining buildings of the Penryn estates, which also includes Penryn Park to the west. The John Tucker Williams House, known as “Penryn Homestead” is located at 82 Victoria Street South.
It is recognized for its heritage value by the Town of Port Hope By-law 3212/79 Schedule B, passed on April 21, 1986.
The Penryn Homestead is one of the oldest surviving homes in Port Hope. Originally constructed in the neo-classical style, in circa 1828, the exterior of the building was extensively altered, in 1890. The interior of the building has been well-preserved, and retains many of the original neo-classical details. The original entrance is located in the 1890's two-storey frontispiece, and features a semi-elliptical fanlight and sidelights.
The Penryn Homestead was built by Commander John Tucker Williams, who was known as J.T. He was a British naval officer who fought under Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar. He came to Upper Canada during the War of 1812, and settled in Port Hope, marrying Sarah Spradbow Ward, the daughter Captain Thomas Ward, who was another of Port Hope's early settlers. In October 1816, he was appointed Commander of the H.M.S. Surprise, in the upper Great Lakes.
J.T. Williams commanded the Durham Regiment during the Rebellion of 1837, and was later appointed Magistrate. He went on to represent the County in Parliament. He was Port Hope's first appointed Mayor, in 1851.
The Penryn Homestead, named after the area of Cornwall that J.T. had come from, was built using lumber, cut on the property, and sawn, in one of the early water-powered mills, on the Ganaraska River. Bricks for the fireplaces and chimneys were made in the Port Hope brickyard.
The Williams' children, Arthur, Augusta, and Emma all lived on nearby estates after their marriages. After J.T.'s death, in 1854, his wife Sarah, remained in the house until her death, in 1888.
Source: Heritage Designation By-law# 3212/79 Schedule B, Municipality of Port Hope, Heritage Port Hope Files, Port Hope Town Hall, 56 Queen Street; Port Hope Archives, 17 Mill Street N., Port Hope.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Penryn Homestead include its:
- two storey form, with projecting frontispieces, on the north and south facade
- exterior brick walls under the original roughcast stucco
- gable roof with returned eaves over the frontispiece
- entrance portico with gable roof and Doric columns
- fenestration, including double hung 20/20 sashes flanked by 12/1 windows, 12/12, 1/1 and 2/2 sashes and shutters
- interior neo-classical details, including the original front entranceway with elliptical fanlight and sidelights and the original rear entranceway flanked by carved pilasters with an entablature above