141 Mill Street, Castleton

(mid to late 1800s)
Roll No. 1411-011-050-09900 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Gothic Revival Cottage (Ontario Cottage)

141 Mill Street, Castleton Ontario, is another of the Gothic Revival Cottage or “Ontario Cottages” as they are known throughout the province.

Here we have a clapboard version. They are found in the red brick so common in the county and, sometimes in stucco, though in that case, the original cladding may have been either of the other two options.

The classic Gothic Revival Cottage is a three bay structure with a steep gable on the front facade.

Often this gable is a riot of Victorian gingerbread with finials, dentil moulding, fretwork, scrolled brackets, flat sawn balusters and running trim. This house is devoid of all that fancy work and the vestiges of a gable balcony or perhaps a front porch (or both) can be seen.

141 Mill Street does have the usual Palladian style opening in the gable, another feature that identifies this architectural style, though in this case it is a door, adding further proof that a gable balcony and/or porch originally existed. The Gothic Revival Cottage has a cross gable roof and can be one and a half stories or two. Due to the prevailing tax laws in the 1800s, houses often had more floors and fireplaces than was immediately evident from their exterior appearance.

In this case, the gable cross extends full height in the rear which significantly increases the square footage from the typical three bay structure.

This house has a single story three panel bay window to the right of the front facade along with a shed roof addition. There is also an addition to the left side – sunroom or summer kitchen possibly.

There is a white board and batten barn built close to the house, probably the same age as the house.

A very charming rural property.

History or Associative Value

When Joseph Keeler III died, his widow Octavia, hired Colborne attorney William Lazarus Payne to oversee her landholdings. In 1884, a plasterer from Colborne, J.A. Philip, became owner of the lots upon which 141 Mill Street stands. 5 years later a cabinetmaker, Albert Drinkwater, took over ownership and kept it until 1912 when Castleton miller W. Purdy bought the property and held it until 1922. The house could have been built in the late 1800s (architectural clues), or the early 20th century, based on sale prices.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

141 Mill Street, Castleton, Ontario
Cramahe Township, Concession 7, Lot 33, Castleton Lot 156

The 200 acres of Lot 33, Concession 7, which includes much of modern-day Castleton, were granted by the Crown to Catherine Williamson (1800-1879), Martha Byrns (1797-1870), Sarah Stevens (1794=?), Rebecca Pruyn (1809-?), and Jane Pruyn (1798-?) on 2 April 1832. These were the five daughters of Matthew Pruyn (1762-1813) an Empire Loyalist who settled in Prince Edward County. It is unclear why his daughters were granted this land. There is no evidence that any of them ever lived there.

Rebecca Pruyn sold the 200 acres belonging to herself and her sisters to Joseph Abbott Keeler (1788-1855) on 23 February 1833. Over the next several years Keeler sold of bits and pieces of this land, and what was left went to his son Joseph Keeler (1824-1881) on 23 September 1854.

The younger Keeler owned the property for the rest of his life and when he died in 1881 it, along with his many other holdings elsewhere in Cramahe Township, went to his wife Octavia Phillips (1827-1899). Octavia hired Colborne lawyer William Lazarus Payne (1847-1928) to handle her land transactions, and Payne sold numerous lots in Castleton, including 158, to Colborne plasterer Joseph Arundel Philp (1827-1911) on 11 November 1884. Five years later, on 28 October 1889, Philp and his wife Isabella Mabel Battell (1830-1914) sold the land including Lot 158 to cabinet maker and furniture dealer Albert Washington Drinkwater (1838-1920). On 19 March 1912 Drinkwater and his wife Susan Priscilla Brintnell (1838-1925) sold the property to miller William Wilson Purdy (1882-1919). Purdy died of chronic nephritis in 1919 and the property went to his wife Sarah Maude Gaffield (1884-1967). Sarah Purdy owned it until 1927.

Land prices provide no useful information regarding the age of the house at 116 Mill Street because different combinations of properties were included in each transaction. It is certain that Joseph and Octavia Keeler did not live there. It is also improbable that Joseph Philp was a resident, as he appears to have spent his life in Colborne. Albert Drinkwater and William Purdy, on the other hand, were residents of Castleton. Purdy owned the mills on the west side of Percy Street after 1911 and presumably lived in the house associated with the mills (now 1742 Percy Street). Drinkwater owned other properties in Castleton, so his tenure on lot 158 is also open to question, though it certainly seems feasible. If he built the house, it was erected sometime between 1884 and 1912. He had a single daughter: Eunice R. (1868-1969).

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