Home of the Week, 125 Kingsway Cres., Toronto. Asking price: $1,490,000. This red brick house sat on 400 acres of farmland edging down to the Humber River when it was built in the Gothic Revival style in 1853. The surrounding village was known as Lambton Mills for the grist and saw mills that operated along the river at that time. In the early 1900s, a new owner named John Berry moved into the three-bedroom house. Mr. Berry was the treasurer and tax collector for the Township of Etobicoke, and the local residents would come to the house to pay their taxes, says the current owner, Jill Kelsall. The house is still known as the Berry House as – over the years – the surrounding land was gradually developed and Lambton Mills was absorbed into the neighbourhood now known as the Kingsway. During its 161 years, the house built before Confederation has been home to only six families.
Ms. Kelsall had the opportunity to chat with the previous owner when she bought the house at 125 Kingsway Cres. many years ago. That owner, architect Blake Miller, had also designed the large addition on the rear of the house. Ms. Kelsall says Mr. Miller was known for his modern design in the 1970s, but he also appreciated the historic house. The addition added a light-filled dining area and a large kitchen with a walk-out to a large terrace.
On the lower level, the addition created an extra living area with above-ground windows. The bedroom, sitting room, bathroom and small kitchen can also serve as a separate suite for a nanny or older children, points out real estate agent Colin Kinnear. When Ms. Kelsall took over, she removed an enclosed porch that had been added over the years. She had help from her father-in-law, the interior designer Murray Oliver, who was involved in the restoration of the Old Mill Inn in Toronto and Dundurn Castle in Hamilton, Ont.
Ms. Kelsall and Mr. Oliver found a vintage photo of the house with its original porch and Mr. Oliver ensured that new porch posts were milled to replicate the original design. Inside, Ms. Kelsall had a window that had been closed off opened up again in the living room. At some point the ceilings had been dropped so she had them restored to their original height of 10 feet. ‘It was so odd to me that they had it all closed off,” Ms. Kelsall said. “We really wanted to see the light.’
The front door, mouldings and windows throughout the house were also replaced or repaired in keeping with the original style. The centre staircase with original balustered railing and spindles remains. The family room has been converted from two rooms into one large space with a fireplace on a raised hearth.
Ms. Kelsall says she enjoys the fact that the principal rooms are large and accommodating and the bedrooms are relatively small. That encourages family members to spend time together in the main part of the house, she says. ‘It has humble bedrooms and I like it from that point of view.'
Ms. Kelsall says the modern addition – with a vaulted, skylit ceiling and floor-to-ceiling glass – is a dramatic setting for formal dining. For really large gatherings, she sets up tables that extend into the living room. ‘We’ve had dinner for 22 in this room.'