Bell House 1971
A pioneer stone home sits on High Street that dates back to the 1830’s has been home to families whose names are still well known in the Ottawa Valley. The first owner was John Bell (son of Rev. William Bell) who opened a general store in 1829 with his brother Robert.
The stone house was built shortly after the Bell’s arrival by Henry Wilson who was also responsible for homes that were once owned by Howard Dack and Mrs. John A McCarten. In the 1970’s Mrs. Loosemore delighted in the continued restoration of the stone home says her grandfather Tanner Brice McNeely bought it from Sam Price. Brice McNeely operated the tannery which is still standing on Bell Street. As his daughters married, it was his custom to give them a house. This particular house was bequeathed to Jane who had married Stewart B Houston. She lived in it from 1928 until her death in 1942.
It was then rented by the Houston family until 1961 when Mrs. Loosemore and her sister Mrs. James C Gardiner inherited it and began tor restore it. Behind the jagged stone wall lies a door that is unique and is called a *coffin door. The other doors in the home called Cathedral or Bible paneled leading to the main door were too small to manoeuvre large furniture or a coffin. Hence the door with three closed panels at the bottom and three narrow glass inset at the top was called a coffin door.
*Before embalming was commonplace, you did NOT want to tilt a loaded coffin upright. Ever.So coffin doors made it easy to slide those suckers out. Sometimes coffin doors led to a parlor, sometimes (as in this case), they led outside, probably to a wagon for the graveyard. Not infrequently, coffin doors were double, with an exterior door and an interior one that was often used as a carrying platform and also a tabletop “stage” for viewing. Terrible to say, but the installations of these doors were expensive, but sadly, it eventually paid for itself.
In coffin related reading. This is a story by my friend John Manchester whose William Manchester wrote The Death of a President. His father instructed that his children were to build his coffin upon his death. Miss you John and Judy.
Carleton Place Girl–I grew up right next door and during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s this house was inhabited by Leita Andison and her mother. Mrs Andison died there and her funeral was held in the living room with the casket in front of the lovely stone fireplace.