The listing: 32 Aberdeen Avenue, Hamilton
Asking price: $2,289,000
Taxes: $17,996 (2021)
Lot size: 50 feet by 115 feet
Agents: Stella McCollum and Doug Widdicombe, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada
When Lisa Li and her husband, Bill Boyd, set eyes on a mansion in Hamilton while surfing the internet, they realized it was everything they had hoped for in a retirement home.
The couple quickly bought the five-bedroom, seven-bathroom property located in Hamilton’s historic Durand neighbourhood in 2017. Their plan was to rent it out to tenants for a few years and then to move in after winding down their construction company in Toronto. The lull in business brought on by the pandemic, however, forced the pair to delay their retirement plans. So, after just four years of ownership, they are selling the estate Mr. Boyd calls a “masterpiece.”
“COVID has wreaked havoc on our plans, so we are going to be working in Toronto for a while now,” he said. “Whoever buys this place will really enjoy it.”
Mr. Boyd and Ms. Li inherited the French chateau-inspired home from a short series of high-profile owners and tenants. It was built in 1986 for the Goldblatts, one of Hamilton’s wealthiest families and the founders of iron and steel company Intermetco (which was purchased by Philips Services Inc. in 1997 after 100 years of business). One of its first residents was Sondra Maral Goldblatt, who ran a Kosher foods company out of a commercial kitchen in the basement.
The Goldblatts also used their palace for more than business – the current owners said their predecessors were known to use the mansion’s 7,000 square feet of living space to throw massive parties.
“In the Jewish holidays, they would do a lot of entertaining,” Mr. Boyd said. “It would have been a gathering spot, they had a big extended family.”
The home’s first owners then sold the place in 2007 to employees at the educational publisher Treehouse Press. Like the Goldblatts, they also operated their business from the home’s lower level. Ten years later, Mr. Boyd and Ms. Lee started using that space to attract temporary tenants. And in their time as owners, they have rented it out to several members of the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the Canadian Football League.
Mr. Boyd said renters lined up to sign its steep lease – currently listed at $6,800 a month – not only for the home’s beauty, but also for the neighbourhood’s vibe and history. Durand is a downtown pocket of Hamilton that borders Main Street West and the Bruce Trail, a 890-kilometre hiking and conservation hub. The 230-year-old area also boasts homes with architectural nods to the mid-19th and early-20th centuries.
“Without a doubt, it’s one the best collections of reserved architecture in the whole country,” said Mr. Boyd, who compared the neighbourhood to Rosedale in Toronto and Mount Royal in Calgary.
“The biggest difference between the Hamilton neighbourhood and the other two are that the homes are still intact.”
The house today
The mansion’s rich history and mid-19th century architecture give it an old world feel, while its entertainment room and long list of amenities keep it modern.
From an outside view, the home looks pulled from the 1860s, with its cobblestone entryway and classic grey stucco siding reminiscent of Portland cement. The interior, conjured by award-winning interior designer Harvey Sobel, builds on the vintage feel with its dark hardwood floors and contours, two fireplaces, library and wine cellar.
But the place’s best-kept secret is its relatively young age of 35 years, which allows it to function like a modern home. In the couple’s four years as owners, Mr. Boyd said they upgraded bathrooms and decor, but felt no need to alter any of its other features.
“What turned us on to the house was the quality of the construction,” he said. “But also the nice thing about it is that even though it’s a really large property, there isn’t a lot of external maintenance.”
Amenities – such as air conditioning, central vacuum, underground parking and security system – make the home a finished project. And the eight-foot-tall doors and port hole windows that garnish it are not just rich-looking and pretty, said Ms. Li, who works in window and door construction. “They are the real deal.”
The owners said they waited until Ontario entered Step 3 of its reopening plan to list the home, and have so far seen substantial interest. Ms. Li suspects renters and potential buyers like the place for its rarity, as the current cost of building a house of this size makes it difficult to replicate. The home also caters to multiple groups of buyers.
“For someone that wants to settle in Hamilton, you’re not going to get a better location,” Mr. Boyd said.
“Whether that’s a doctor working at St. Joseph’s hospital, someone working at McMaster University, or someone with a large extended family … it can have multiple purposes.”
The best feature
Two words come to mind when Mr. Boyd describes the home: space and light. And both are most prominent in the 1,000-square-foot entertainment room at the back of the home. Surrounded by French doors and wide windows, the space leads to a balcony that overlooks the entire city of Hamilton.
“It’s like a big ballroom,” he said. “You’ll never find that in another house.”
In the day, the room acts as an elevated sunroom, with light being fed into it through an octagon-shaped skylight and three-storey atrium in the house’s middle. At night, it can double as an entertainment room.
“I would guess this place has seen many good nights and parties,” Mr. Boyd added.
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