123 Crescent St., Peterborough, Ont.
Asking Price: $3,300,000
Taxes: $14,815.75 (2020)
Lot Size: 1.18-acre
Agents: Jack Cole, Dominic Cole, Miles Groome (Ball Real Estate Inc.)
Nancy Waddell first passed by the historic home at 123 Crescent St. in downtown Peterborough, Ont., when it arrived on the real estate market in the early 2000s. The property sat in a prominent location across from the city’s Little Lake, but the tired white clapboard exterior did not inspire Ms. Waddell, so she kept going.
“A year later I met the woman who owned it and she invited me for dinner,” Ms. Waddell says.
After an evening spent looking out over the lake from beside the backyard pool, Ms. Waddell told her husband she had found the perfect family home in Peterborough.
“It was when I sat on the inside that I really saw the potential,” she says of the view from the property. “The road disappears and it just looks like you’re sitting right on the water.”
According to the City of Peterborough’s heritage register, the house was built in the mid-1800s and is likely the oldest building in the Crescent Street area. The property was purchased by Charles Ware in 1871 and was later sold to local butcher and drover Henry Winch.
In 1939, Alleric Letellier converted the building to “ultra-modern” apartments, according to his advertisements of the day.
When Ms. Waddell visited, the dwelling was no longer used as an apartment building but it still contained some of the remnants of those past divisions. She urged Hugh Waddell to have a look.
“He came to see it and he fell in love with it as well,” she says.
The couple had undertaken many renovations over the years and they could easily envision the transformation of 123 Crescent into a grand single-family home again. They purchased the property and immediately began planning the restoration.
The house today
The old home had lost most of its original features and looked as if it was last updated in the 1960s or 70s, Ms. Waddell says.
“It had flowered wallpaper on the walls and mismatched trim everywhere,” she says. “We had to completely gut the whole place.”
The couple tore down old additions that cut off some parts of the interior from others. One bedroom, for example, could only be accessed from the rear of the house.
They found one window and one doorway that had trim that matched quite closely. They decided to extend that style throughout the interior. Similarly, they located one section of baseboard that was substantial but simple at the same time.
“We had enough milled for the whole house.”
They created an open plan so that light would flow through the main floor. New French windows and doors swing inwards to allow fresh air in.
During the demolition, the couple discovered that the original part of the home was of post-and-beam construction.
Their plan to expand the small kitchen into a larger one wouldn’t work because of those heavy wood supports.
“We had two huge posts and beams that we couldn’t take down,” she says. “We had to add on an entire kitchen.”
The former kitchen currently serves as a pantry, while the new kitchen has floor-to-ceiling cabinets, a large stainless steel range, built-in appliances and a large central island. There’s also a breakfast area and a coffee bar.
The expansion nearly doubled the size of the house to 5,500 square feet.
In addition to the new kitchen, the main floor has a living room, dining room, family room and laundry.
Upstairs the couple created a large master suite with a reading nook, his-and-hers bathrooms, and walk-in closets.
The Waddells added three additional bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms for their four children.
Downstairs, the basement is partially finished.
After they purchased the property, the Waddells applied to sever two lots. Permission was granted at the time, they say, but a severance never took place.
Over the years, the couple explored the possibility of building a condominium project on the lots in keeping with Peterborough’s aim to increase density, but they decided they weren’t interested in taking on a development project.
“It’s a very viable option for somebody but not for us,” Ms. Waddell says.
The house is listed on the city’s heritage register but not designated, which means its inclusion on the register does require an owner to provide 60 days’ notice of intention to demolish a structure.
Ms. Waddell says the house can remain a single-family home forever.
“It will easily stand another 130 years.”
Real estate agent Dominic Cole of Ball Real Estate Inc. says this summer has seen a rush of people from Toronto and its suburbs moving east to Peterborough.
The area provides quick access to cottage country and nearby ski hills, and the city’s arts and culture scene is lively, he says. The extension of Highway 407 makes travel to the Greater Toronto Area very smooth, he adds.
“It’s really very vibrant now,” he says of the city’s traditional downtown. The Crescent Street house is poised right at the edge, overlooking the Centennial Fountain.
“You can walk to everything from this location.”
The best feature
The property sits on a gentle rise above street level, says Ms. Waddell, so people sitting in the backyard can look out towards the lake and watch the sun come across the water. The yard has mature trees, a refurbished in-ground pool and a hot tub.
The secluded cabana has a fireplace and a bathroom. Ms. Waddell likes to use the setting for outdoor movie nights for the couple’s grandchildren.
They’ve also had several big celebrations, including a sit-down dinner for 167 people.
“We had our daughter’s wedding there,” Ms. Waddell says. “It turned out to be a wonderful place to entertain.”
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