Late notice – application to alter Charles Billings House

Apologies for the late notice of this application. The AVCA received notice from the City that an application has been submitted to alter the Charles Billings House, 187 Billings Avenue under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. The building was designated by City Council in 2013. The property owner has applied to demolish a portion of the building and construct an addition at the rear of the property.

The item was heard by the Built Heritage Sub-Committee on January 13, 2015 at 1pm, scheduled for Planning Committee on January 20, 2015 and City Council on January 28, 2015. The staff report indicates support for the application as it includes retention of 80% of the original building and protection of heritage attributes including (among other things) the wood cladding, gable roof, chimney, central gable and vestibule with diamond shaped windows. The results of the committee vote were 3-2 in favour.

FYI – the link above provides all the documents for the application, including concept drawings showing the extent of changes and some history (keep reading if you are interested).

The Charles Billings House has cultural heritage value for its physical value as an early pioneer cottage style house and its historical value as associated with the settlement and development of the Billings Bridge community – including several important local families; namely Billings and McKellar… As an example of an early residence, the Charles Billings House is vernacular but illustrates elements of the Ontario Cottage Style, which was the most common house type in Ontario from roughly the 1830s to the 1870s. Features of the house typical of the style include the frame construction, stone foundation, one-and-one-half-storey massing, gabled roof with central gable over the entrance, and the red brick chimneys. The shiplap siding of the house is rugged and the diamond window in the building’s vestibule is the only decoration. Such houses were principally built for shelter and therefore were inspired by necessity rather than aesthetic value.
The property is historically valuable for its early associations with the Billings family and their estate which developed into the Village of Billings Bridge. Arriving in 1812, Braddish Billings was the first settler of Gloucester Township. He and his family developed and leased surrounding lands, including this property, and the area soon became the thriving Village of Billings Bridge. Known locally as ‘the foreman’s house’, the documented history of 187 Billings Avenue begins with Archibald McKellar, a well established Ottawa dairy farmer who began his career here while leasing the property from Billings from 1857 to 1871. After McKellar left, the family of Charles Billings, Braddish’s youngest son, owned the property for three generations beginning in 1859 and lasting until 1961. Charles and his son Hugh Braddish were both prominent community members who shaped the political landscape of the village. Contextual value is found in the property’s character as one of the earliest residential structures remaining in the Alta Vista neighbourhood. The building’s orientation away from the street indicates the early settlement of the area.

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