Friday, May 28, 2010

2010 Grey County Heritage Certificate of Recognition to Jim Brunow

The Society decided to honour two of the nominees for the Heritage Certificate of Recognition this year.

The first was Jim Brunow, who unfortunately was unable to attend. His wife, Sue Lavigne accepted the award on his behalf.
Sue Lavigne receiving the framed certificate from Janet Iles.

Jim Brunow restored two heritage homes in St. Vincent Township, Grey County, Ontario.

The first is known as Riverside Farm on the E 1/2 Lot 12, Concession 8, St. Vincent on Side Road 13, Meaford.

. The Crown granted Lot 12, Concession 8, St. Vincent Township, consisting of 200 acres, to Donald Cameron on May 29, 1843. In 1845, Cameron sold the 200 acres to Robert Bell for 75 pounds. In 1870 Eleanor Bell, presumably the wife of Robert Bell, sold the property to Walter Bell “and others”.

That year, the 200 acres of land was divided equally among the family passing from Walter “and others” to Robert Bell, Margaret G. Bell, Annie C. Bell and Mary Elizabeth Bell who had married William Clark. On November 4, 1891, Annie C. Bell and Margaret G. Bell sold their two 50 acre parcels (E 1/2 100 Acres) to William Cramp. William and his bride, Mary Ann Moon, lived in a tent on the property until he could construct their first frame home. The frame home became the back portion of the later yellow brick Ontario Gothic style house. He also built the large barn, which still stands on the property.

In 1926, when his parents retired to Meaford, William John Cramp and his wife, Ada Shields took over the farm. William had named his property “Riverside Farm” as the Bighead River bisected the 100 acres . For years, the bridge over the river was referred to as the Cramp Bridge and when the iron bridge with boards was replaced with the cement bridge in the late fifties, the name became official.

In 1969, the Cramps sold their farm to a person from Toronto. He rented the house and land for the next 23 years; it passed through a number of hands. The buildings were sadly neglected. When Jim Brunow discovered the property, the frame portion had deteriorated badly and was a candidate for demolition.

Jim Brunow purchased the farm and under his skillful supervision began the restoration of the house. Most of the flooring and much of the woodwork could be saved. Since the brick house had a gothic peak, Jim removed the square dormer on the early frame house and replaced it with a matching gothic peak; installing new Gothic windows and other windows. The yellow brick was cleaned, the roof replaced with cedar singles. Finials were added to the apexes of the gables. New lacey bargeboard, sometimes referred to as gingerbread, was added to the steep gables and roof lines, and accentuated with decorative Gothic drops.

A wrap-around veranda was added including the delicate treillage and Gothic drops. The decorative posts were set on plinths. The earlier section was covered with board-and-batten. The new owners have since extended the living space of the home and the whole house is now decorated in a soft yellow with white trim. From the bridge the home now resembles a Picturesque Gothic Revival style and peaks over the tree tops. It can be viewed from the Cramp Bridge on Side Road 13 off County Road 12, Meaford.

The original barn received extensive repairs and was given a new steel roof.

As part of the Bighead River Enhancement Project, the river corridor was reforested and a steep clay bank was stabilized with a layer of protective rock, ground cover and cedar seedlings. The land has been brought back into productive use and is beautifully planted, treed, and landscaped.

The second restoration project was the James Storey home at Scotch Mountain, Lot 5, Concession 9, St. Vincent Township.
When James Storey (1809-1889) arrived in Upper Canada from Roxburghshire, Scotland, he settled in Lanark County in the mid-1830s. The stoney land of Lanark was unsuitable for farming. The inhabitants faced starvation. The British Government cancelled the debts of the Lanark settlers and offered them 200 acres of free land in St. Vincent Township. In 1836, James Storey, along with other Scottish settlers moved to the southern edge of the Big Head Valley where a rise in the Niagara Escarpment was given the name Scotch Mountain.

He received the Patent for Lot 5, Concession 9 on December 16, 1839; that year, he married Esther Free (1821-1896). The couple raised six children: Ann, William, Henry, Esther, Mary Jane and Fanny.

When James died in 1889, he willed the north half of his property to his son, William and the south half to his son, Henry. The acreage continued in the Storey family until the mid-1960s.

Today James Storey's totally restored house sits on a most beautiful 100 acres with views in all directions over rolling and manicured countryside. In the distance is Georgian Bay.

The beautifully crafted fieldstone and limestone house was built around 1860 in what is sometimes referred to as, “Wilderness Georgian” because of its center hall plan. The formal door is termed an “Ontario Door” featuring a rectangular transom and sidelights designed to let light into the entryway. Dentils add a touch of simple elegance under the eves.

Once again the house had been left to deteriorate and was in very poor state of repair when Jim Brunow came along to save it in the early 1990s. He began his restoration work with the foundation, replacing the roof and chiseling and re-pointing all the stonework.

The interior of the house was gutted. Exterior walls were framed and insulated to code. The only parts of the home that were salvageable were the stone wall, the two-inch thick pine floors, interior framing, the handsome staircase and some of the fixtures.

The original oversized trim of the house was reproduced, ornamental interior cornices and moldings were added, decorative and antique plumbing and electrical fixtures and hardware were sourced from architectural supply houses and antique sales across Ontario.

The kitchen emulates, as close as possible, what a kitchen would have been like in the late 1800s or early 1900s with a stone floor, an antique corner cupboard, antique flat-to-the-wall cupboards, a working Enterprise wood cook-stove and original gas light fixtures converted to electricity. A huge handsome center island was designed and built by a very fine craftsman and provides preparation space along with a harvest table in the spacious kitchen.

A board-and-batten sunroom extension was added off the kitchen that provided views to the gardens and lawns on three sides of the house and enhances this exceptional restoration.

Congratulations, Jim and thank you for preserving a part of Grey County's history.

photo of presentation courtesy of Peter Chepil; other photos supplied by Jim Brunow; information from brochure distributed the evening of the presentation

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