PHOTOS: 125-years later, historic Hamilton home remains beautifully unchanged


Published December 1, 2020 at 7:54 am

A historic Hamilton home is up for sale but the seller is looking for a unique buyer to ensure its virtually untouched-in-126-years condition and its single-family status remains intact.

There are century homes throughout Hamilton that when you travel past them, you can’t help but wonder what treasures are contained on the inside.

Here’s our chance to finally get an up-close and personal look inside a remarkably preserved and enchanting Hamilton home that has intrigued the city’s residents for more than 100 years.

This iconic house, located at 254 Bay Street S in the city’s downtown, was originally known as ‘Maple Lawn.’ It is a pristine example of Queen Anne Revival architecture — a style that was the height of fashion in the late 1800s to the early 1900s and one of several styles that were popular during the reign of Victoria.

According to The Canadian Register of Historic Places, this style of design and architecture is identified by its flamboyance and eccentricities. It draws inspiration from previous eras and has been characterized as fanciful and exuberant.

Maple Lawn is among several examples of this style in Hamilton and it is believed to be the last one standing with its exterior and interior almost completely untouched and preserved.

The home’s current owner, Beverly Bronte-Tinkew, has lived there for the last 16 years and says that while the house itself seems grand, it’s been a comfortable and welcoming home.

“The grandness is really just the tip of it,” Bronte-Tinkew told InTheHammer. “It’s very welcoming and its beauty is something you can really touch and feel and enjoy.”

Bronte-Tinkew says she has searched high and low and has even enlisted the help of others to find out exactly who the architect was and who the home was built for.

So far, she hasn’t been able to come up with an answer. The previous owners, though, were prominent Hamilton families and the house was passed down through them.

What we know

The first family to have owned the house near the turn of the Nineteenth Century were the Flatts, who owned a lumber business in Hamilton.

In the early 1900s, the home, through marriage, became the home of Hamilton’s first coroner, Dr. William James McNichol, who eventually added a cottage to the back of the property which became his practice and that of his descendants, some of whom became physicians.

In the latter half of the 1900s, the home came under the ownership of the Weresch family, who also maintained it for decades as a single-family dwelling until Bronte-Tinkew purchased the home in the early 2000s.

“When I first walked in, there was a ‘wow’ factor,” she recalls. “It was like something out of a movie. It was so grand but still so accessible.”

The work Bronte-Tinkew has put into the home is largely maintenance: much has been done to create the stunning landscaping on the property and the biggest change is the kitchen, which was renovated and moved, but in keeping with the character of the home and preserving as much of the original fixtures as possible.

“The house really stands on the hands and shoulder of the people who have lived here and those who built it,” she said, noting that it would be next to impossible to recreate the structure today given that many of the original materials and specialized craftsmanship that went into its creation are no longer available.

“It is a living piece of art.”

Which is why Bronte-Tinkew wants to ensure its preservation for generations of Hamiltonians to come.

“I have a bit of responsibility now that it’s my time to leave,” she said, alluding to the fact that over the years, the home has become a source of pride to not just her but the community at large.

“People are always stopping to talk about it,” she said. “At any time of day, you can see people outside staring at it. Enjoying it.”

She is hoping that the home won’t be turned into condominiums or apartments or become subdivided.

“This house has been home to generations of a couple of families without it having been significantly altered,” she said. “The house represents the city in a specific period of time (Industrialization) and this corner, with it being so visible, is a crossroad in time.

“I, personally, would like to see the home not just valued and preserved, but loved and be a welcoming beautiful home for other families.”

Want to know more or share a story about this home?

Seeing as how some of the home’s history remains buried in the past, IntheHammer is asking members of the public to share some of their stories of the house, or, if you’re in the know, any pieces of history that perhaps the owner doesn’t know.

To learn more about the house or for enquiries into its sale, visit this website. It’s currently listed for sale with Tom Fleming, Broker, Judy Marsales Real Estate Ltd.

— all photos courtesy Tom Vogel of Vogel Creative

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