Dim All The Lights — The Troubled Times of the Abner Nichols Home on Bridge Street

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Question– August 24, 2015

Linda–Does anyone know anything about the little yellow house on Bridge Street? It has been empty for years, overgrown, but no matter what time of day you go past, 2 am, 3pm, all the lights in the house are always on.

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“The History as we know it so far..”

The “little yellow house” at 274 Bridge Street in Carleton Place is known locally as the “Abner Nichols House”. It was once designated as a municipal heritage building, and it is still on the 2015 list. According to a Conservation Review Board affidavit- in 1991, then owner, Judith Hughes requested it be removed as a protected building under the Heritage Act.  At the same time she was requesting another property she owned at 222 William Street to be repealed also. It is to be noted that in the late 80s Algonquin College renovated this home.

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Abner Nichols once owned a saw mill along the Mississippi River at the bottom of Flora street. Nichols was also in the timber business and owned a planning mill on the corner or Lake Ave and Moore Street in 1896. The Nichols home was the first home of a family that produced three mayors of Carleton Place over three generations. Nichols was also Carleton Place’s first Reeve, and served as Mayor in 1894 and in 1899. Later the house served as the rectory for St.James Anglican church.

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As of 2015 when I am writing this it doesn’t take much to notice the building has gone into disrepair over the years. I have no idea why the present owner (name withheld) continues to hold the property and not occupy it.  Then owner, Ms. Hughes was initially upset over the aesthetics of the building that was built next door. Joann Voyce said the apartment building that sits partially in front of the old Miller home was once the John Deere dealership. read- Heritage Homes Disputes- Abner Nichols House.

The two buildings side by side do not complement each other that is for sure. While I’m sure both structures are on legal property Hughes also argued at the time about the personal economic cost of attempting to sell a property that was designated heritage. So for now, only the lights remain on in the “little yellow house.”

Also read

Monday, October 3, 2011
The Parsonage House
Another of Carleton Place’s beautiful old homes is slowly dying. This pretty yellow frame house is on the north end of Bridge Street. It’s been empty for many years, caught up in a war over Heritage Designation. It was originally the parsonage house for the Methodist Church across the street. CLICK here

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The Carleton Place property standards does require the present owner to do repairs. But, if an order is given under property standards, the owner only has to do the minimum requirements to meet the request. I, like everyone else, would like this house to be restored to it former glory, but  owners of properties can and do decide the level of property maintenance as long as basics requirements are met. Last winter the top door facing Bridge Street blew open and the town of Carleton Place had to go and close it. I have been also told the roof is in need of immediate attention.  There is no doubt the full restoration of the Nichols house could become quite expensive at this point and time.

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The same thing is presently happening in Windsor, Ontario. A Windsor couple wants the city to remove a heritage designation from their Riverside Drive home, so that potential buyers won’t be dissuaded from considering its purchase. Similar to the Hughes 1991 case the homeowners asked the city to designate it as a heritage property in 1999. But now the couple want the status reversed so they can sell their home.

The Easton’s have asked for a repeal of the heritage designation, but city staff  recommended that the request be turned down. Now that the couple is selling the home, Bruck Easton said he and his wife have found that when they tell a buyer the house is a heritage property, “you can sort of watch the buyers just turn around and walk out.” The city’s planning, heritage and economic development standing committee dealt with the application at a meeting last week.The committee said there was nothing they could do. The Eastons are upset and plan to take the issue before city council soon.

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Many people seek out heritage homes when making a purchasing decision. Should the heritage designations stay? Things don’t stop being heritage just because someone wants to sell them. I think it is an issue that the right buyer needs to come along– more than the heritage issue. In the case of the Nichols home its fate appears quite bleak. I hope someone saves the little yellow house before it’s too late—or is it already just a matter of fact.–

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Photos- Linda Seccaspina and the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

https://www.realtor.ca/real-estate/23247837/274-bridge-street-carleton-place-carleton-place

UPDATE– Tis house will lose it hertiage designation Decemeber 21, 2021

https://www.toronto.com/news-story/10188600–demolition-is-forever-properties-significant-to-carleton-place-history-need-protection-stresses-heritage-committee/

$299,000

274 BRIDGE STREET
Carleton Place, Ontario K7C3H6

MLS® Number: 1243849

As the mayor of Carleton Place, Doug Black said: Thank you Eden
on your very thoughtful email to myself on behalf of council.
 
There is no doubt we need more residents like Eden especially whoever purchases the property.

To Whom It May Concern:

Hello, my name is Eden Cain, I am currently a grade 11 student at the local high school, Notre Dame. I am a member of our student council and am a member of the local Carleton Place community. I am also an avid lover of Carleton Place local history. I am writing to you regarding the house at 274 Bridge Street in Carleton Place.

You may recognise it as the bright yellow house that you see driving, biking, or walking down Bridge Street. This house has recently been posted for sale. I have walked by this house countless times and often stop to take in its beautiful potential. To me this house is history at its finest and one of the many beautiful historic homes in Carleton Place. This house to me represents everything that Carleton Place is about, preserving history and coming together as a community. I saw the for-sale sign and quite honestly, I felt disappointed because I am obviously at an age that I personally would not be able to buy this home. I would more than anything like to see this beautiful historic home be restored and loved like it deserves to be. I hopefully looked at the listing online, and it does not even discuss the beautifulness and the specifics of the house itself, only the land which it is on. It also talks about all the new things could be build in its Place. I do understand that it may be in disrepair, but it just needs people to love and see its true beauty.

I have done a lot of research regarding this house and its history. This house was the home of Abner Nichols who moved to Carleton Place in 1867 from Kingston. Mr. Nichols is a big part of Carleton Places history; he was the Deputy Reeve in 1890 and he was even Mayor of Carleton Place from 1894-1899. He also worked as a sawyer at Gilles and McLaren Canada sawmill. In 1879 he opened his own planning mill on Rosemond Street. In 1886 he built another much larger mill and window sash factory at Lake St and Moore avenue. It was operated by three generations for over 70 years. Abner Nichols and Sons later opened a sawmill on Flora Street, this was the last sawmill to bring logs down the Mississippi River. Abner’s son William was Mayor of CP in 1902 and his grandson also named William was Mayor in 1936 and 1937. Three generations of Carleton Place Mayors and members of our beloved Carleton Place community.

You may be wondering what I am trying to get at, as you can see this house holds important historic value to Carleton Place history. I believe that this house should be covered under the Ontario Heritage Act. The address 274 Bridge Street was once covered under this act. I am aware that on Wednesday January 14,1991 there was a public hearing to determine whether the classification of this house under the Ontario Heritage Act should be repealed. The owner at the time was Judith Hughes, she was looking for it to be repealed in hopes of selling it at the time when there was interest in the home. On the 24th of July the same year, the repeal was passed. One of Hughes main objections at the time was that there were hundreds of other buildings that had equal significance. I think that while that may have been true at the time, with Carleton Place growing at an extreme rate, I think its more important to ever to preserve the history of Carleton Place, the Places that give us hope and see the true beauty.

I think that this house for me represents more than just preserving history, it represents having a vision and fighting for what you truly believe in. In all honesty this house, even though it is a part of history, it represents the future-the Carleton Place I want to live in. That to me is one of the reasons why this house should be preserved, and possibly restored as a historic site. It would crush me to see this house be demolished and made into a new modern house or a duplex. I know this may be harder to take coming from someone as young as myself, but I know I am not the only one with the drive to keep the beautiful history of my home Carleton Place alive and thriving. I think that with the last two years more than ever hope is what we all need. Please consider my message and realize that to me this is not just a house and to those who are reading this, I hope you see that. I am willing to do anything in hopes of saving this beautiful site.

Please email me with any questions, concerns, or if you need more convincing. If you are passionate like I am or if you think you can help me in this, I would greatly appreciate you reaching out.  I would g appreciate a response, and rather quickly as the market is selling so quickly during these times. I am very passionate about this and will continue to fight for what is right.

I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read this and to consider my words. Together let us save history and preserve the Carleton Place we all know and love.

Sincerely,

Eden Cain

historicalnotes

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John Armour–This is a picture of Abner Nichols, (very early 1900’s) from my late Grandfather Walter Armour’s collection. Abner Nichols married Eliza McNeely (daughter of 2nd generation James McNeely).

My Great Grandfather, Robert Armour married Jessie McNeely (daughter of 2nd generation McNeely, Thomas Moore)

Related reading

The World of William Abner Nichols

An Amusing Abner Nichols and His Boat

Before and After at Centennial Park

Splinters of Sinders Nichols and Brides

Looking for Information– Nichols Family History

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

24 responses »

  1. As a neighbour to the “Parsonage House” I truly wish the owner would step up and either sell or restore the home, it is an isore and now houses many of the areas “critters.” We have seen the owner of the home a total of 10 times in the 11 years we have lived here. Sad,very sad.

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  2. The eye sore next door was the John Deere dealership.I remember the Miller house behind it before the cement block dealership was built on the front lawn

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  3. Total shame a beautiful old house is slowly falling down. If the owner doesn’t want it sell it to someone who will bring it back to its original luster. I’m sure many would buy it for a dollar and redo it, but the owners greed will likely be it’s demise.

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  4. If the roof has been in need of repair for some time and critters are already living in the house, there is a good chance that rot has already set in not to mention the health dangers of all the feces from the animals. It is truly a shame, the house looks like it would have been a lovely home at one time and I always hate to see something like this happen. Such a waste. The building immediately to the south of it was definitely not built with style or eye appeal being given any thought..

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  5. Wow! I never knew, that this house used to belong to the Nichols’s family. The funny thing is I have told my boyfriend over and over that I would love to buy that house. Never knowing that the house belonged to my great (a couple time over) grandfather.

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  6. I have always loved this little house and it always made me wonder why the lights were always on inside when no one clearly lived there.

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  7. My family rented this home from 1997-2001 it was full of character and beauty but the landlord didn’t care enough to fix it up properly and it needed a lot of work. There were a lot of squirting in the roof. The maid quarter the back room beside the bathroom and the door in between and the stairs went down to the kitchen it was awesome history. Beautiful home

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  8. I like your comment that a house doesnt stop being history just because someone wants to sell it. It is a case of the right buyer, and when you buy a heritage property, knowing that you will likely not be able to take advantage of upswings in the market the way a non designated property would. All that being said, there should be some other policy in place to stop owners letting a house fall to the ground.

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  9. I agree with the Eden! This house holds a lot of history and if I could I would restore this house to it’s former beauty! I myself has always checked that house out and wished that I could of bought it and made it the way that it once was! Someone in the town should restore the house instead of making a modern home. Help keep our history alive for the younger generations to come!

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