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Another piece of Oshawa's past for sale

The 100-plus-year-old house at 442 King Street East is for sale. It is one of the oldest buildings in the City, most likely built around 1860 by the Drew family.

By Geoff Zochodne/The Oshawa Express

A piece of Oshawa history is now for sale.

The building at 442 King Street East used to just be a speck on 40 acres of farmland. Now, suburbs pen the property in, and on that plot remains a reminder of the Oshawa that was.

According to a research report written by the Oshawa Community Museum’s curator Melissa Cole, the Honourable John McGill patented 200 acres of land on April 21, 1809. The area included the plot 442 King currently sits on. All 200 acres were then sold to Benjamin Stone in 1817.

Abraham Coryell, Abraham Coryell Jr. and Daniel Coryell eventually became owners of the land, claims the report. They farmed the land, but the 1836 East Whitby Directory doesn’t mention a home anywhere on the lot yet.

The report estimates the current house, known colloquially as “the Farmhouse” was built by the Drew family. An 1860 map of Ontario County lists the Drews as owners of the land, with a barn built behind the home.

“There is a possibility that this home may have been originally owned by L.G Drew who was a well known Lawyer in Oshawa,” says the report.  “He was a part of the Thirty Club that was in Oshawa.”

The Thirty Club was a social club that met to talk local politics, without the influence of intoxicants or gambling, says

The 1922 City of Oshawa directory puts an A.V. Drew living at 442 King Street East. A Drew owned the home until the 1970s, says the report.

Cole’s report describes the house as having “the symmetrical facade of the Georgian

style, the low pitched roof of the neo-classical, the dichromatic brick drio mouldings around the doors and windows similar to those that would be found on an Italianate style home. Dichromatic quoins are featured on each of the four corners of this rectangular home. A medium gabled roof has returned eaves. The building rests on its original fieldstone foundation. The main facade faces south onto King Street East and features a three bay design with a central entranceway. A one storey extension built off the north facade may have originated as a summer kitchen or living area. This extension is covered in board and batten.”

Ownership of the house passed to Roy Simpson in 2000. From the day he moved in he has been renovating the premises, or as he puts it “making it what it should be.”

Simpson is an antique collector, and by his own admission he was looking for a home to match the older motif of his possessions.

“I wanted to put my antiques into an older home. This was noted as ‘the old Farmhouse’,” says Simpson. “The first step in the door and I said, ‘this is it.’”

When he moved in the interior was not to his liking, so Simpson has spent the last dozen years improving it.

“I was just tired of seeing it how it was,” he explains. “It’s a project. I had everything sort of planned out the way I wanted it.”

He has a few pictures of the Drew family sitting on the house’s front porch from the turn of the century. The family is standing and staring out at the photographer on King Street. Plenty of people stop to gawk and take pictures of his handiwork as well, notes Simpson.

“Everyone who comes through here loves it,” he admits. “A lot of people drive by here and stop in front. There have been a lot of compliments from people on the street.”

Simpson has been working hard to preserve the Victorian look of the house’s interior. As an avid woodworker, he’s been working constantly to get the house just the way he envisioned it. He even rebuilt the barn the Drews once had behind their home, although Simpson’s edition holds a car instead of horses.

The house is located on King Street East between Ritson Road and Wilson Road.

“A dwelling in this location has been a landmark since the mid nineteenth

century,” says Cole’s report. “This home is a fine example of an early Upper Canada rural home representative of the Classic Revival style.”

And like the generations of Drew’s that lived there, Simpson has grown pretty fond of the house.

 “I feel sad. It took a lot of work and a lot of heart to make it what it is,” he says. “Now it’s all fixed up I don’t want to go anywhere.”

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