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908 Dawson/904 Lawrence
A Tale of Two Houses

Information and photos courtesy Nancy Morand
City of Windsor Heritage Planner

908 Dawson Road – built by the same architect as 904 Lawrence in early 1920s

Both 904 Lawrence Road and 908 Dawson Road are illustrative of the residential development taking place in the former Ford City (now part of Windsor) during its major growth period in the first two decades of the 20th Century. The houses still stand as landmarks in their neighbourhood.

The unique fieldstone and stucco home at 908 Dawson Road (southeast corner of Dawson Road and Ontario Street) was built between 1922 and 1924 by local contractor and real estate developer Roy Brigham who built many homes in the “Reaume Gardens” subdivision. The subdivision, approved in 1914 and registered in 1915, was one of many developed by Reaume Organization Ltd., Ford City. Joseph L. Reaume, Barnaby and Denis Janisse, Dr. Percy Gardner, and Tracy W. McGregor all subdivided portions of their properties (Farm Lots 110 and 111) to create the subdivision. “Reaume Gardens” extends south from Wyandotte Street to the railway tracks, and east from Pillette. New streets included Lawrence, Dawson, and Raymo.

Ulysses G. Reaume, president of Reaume Organization, Ltd., also donated a small section of his farm, adjacent to the river, with the stipulation that it be named "Reaume Park.” His firm was touted in the 1923-24 City Directory as the “Border Cities Greatest Developers.”

The Assessment Rolls at the Muncipital Archives list solicitor Bernard Furlong and builder Roy Brigham as owners of 908 Dawson during its construction. In 1925 the ownership of the completed house and property was transferred to 54-year-old Asher Robinson, a foundry manager, and his wife Ida of Detroit. While an Alfred Robinson (clerk at Detroit Stove Works) is listed as a tenant at the new home on Dawson in the 1927 City Directory, and Asher is listed in the 1928 block, the clerk’s rolls do not confirm occupancy until 1930 when two people (Asher and Ida Robinson) lived in the house.

The front entrance at 908 Dawson Road, with the salvaged wrought iron fencing from Ottawa’s Hunter Building in the foreground.

However, by 1931 the house was vacant again. In 1932 an insurance adjuster, Harold W. Ormerod, and his wife and four children briefly took up residence. In 1933, Mrs. Febrannie Beaudet, widow of Edmond, and her four sons moved in. The Robinsons lost the house through foreclosure to the Mutual Life Assurance Co. in 1934. The Beaudet family purchased the house and lived there for 48 years.

The city directories note that son Edward was a machinist at Ford Motor Co. of Canada, Leo was a partner in the Stuebaker Company (1930) and in 1935 was a clerk for Hotel Royal. Leonard was a city fireman and Wilfred was a Ford employee.

The one and a half story, cross gable, bungalow-style home is faced with fieldstone of varying shapes and colors on the first floor and stucco on the second floor. A diamond shaped windowpane motif, often utilized by builder Roy Brigham, is repeated throughout the house. The lower half of the double-hung windows in the parlor have ornate, coloured leaded-glass windows. Original exterior details that remain include wooded brackets on the eaves and wrought iron balconette (front porch roof).The original roof of red concrete roof tiles, remains. Alterations to the building include a remodeling to the front porch and rear porch in 1988, colours (stucco/trim) changed from the original white and green and the original garage was demolished in 1989.

The Current Owner

Currently residing in 908 Dawson is Carl Kotevich, who purchased the home from the Beaudet family in 1981. In addition to working for Canada Post, Mr. Kotevich operates a recording studio in the home. Marcel Beneteau, a well-known local artist who researches and performs heritage French folk music, records there. (Marcel’s CDs can be found at The TIMES Book and Gift Shop located at 624 Chilver).

During kitchen renovations in 1993, Carl Kotevich, owner of 908 Dawson, found a December 20th, 1923 turkey draw ticket. Sponsored by the Inglewood Park Lawn Bowling Club, the draw was to be held in the basement of Lady of the Lake Church (now Our Lady of the Rosary), Sandwich St., Ford City, (Riverside Drive, Windsor).

In the early 1980s Mr. Kotevich salvaged wrought iron fencing from the Hunter Building, a government building (c1900) being demolished in downtown Ottawa. About ninety feet of this fencing and two gates were installed around the house in 1984. Mr. Kotevich has also relocated an original Town of Riverside street light as part of the landscaping treatment on the north (Ontario St.) side of the property.

On December 11, 2000, 908 Dawson was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act and in 2001 Mr. Kotevich was given a bronze plaque commemorating the designation of the property to affix to the exterior of his house.

904 Lawrence Road

This unique brick and cobblestone home, located on the southeast corner of Lawrence Road and Ontario Street in former Ford City, was also built in 1922 by developer Roy Brigham and was part of the “Reaume Gardens” subdivision. Mr. Brigham based his operations from the “Rustic Brick Plant – Brigham Construction Company” located in the early 1920s on the southeast corner of Ontario Street and Lawrence Road, directly across the street from 904 Lawrence (originally 100 Lawrence).

The first homeowner of 904 Lawrence was William E. Addyman, the manager of the Ontario Traffic Service Co. During the 1940s, 50s and early 60s the home was owned by Ivor and Myrtle Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy was an accounting clerk who worked for Hiram Walker & Sons and later Sterling Drugs Manufacturing Ltd. The Kennedy’s lived in the house until 1959 when Ivor was transferred to Aurora. For the last 27 years the house has again seen long-time owners.

904 Lawrence Road, “The Wizard’s Castle.” Perhaps the home’s most prominent architectural element is the chimney with a projection shaped like a six-sided
“Star of David.”

904 Lawrence is quite often referenced as the “castle house” which refers to the battlement-style porch balcony on the west façade of the house. Perhaps the home’s most prominent architectural element is the highly decorative chimney, west of the main entrance on Ontario Street. The bottom half is constructed of fieldstone, while the upper half is of red brick, which extends along the sides of the chimney to frame the fieldstone. Bridging the two materials are two oval windows with diamond shaped windowpanes framed with red brick. This diamond shaped windowpane motif is repeated throughout the house.The red brick chimney projection is shaped like a six-sided “Star of David.” Wooden gable ends have Tudor styling, as does the bottom of the enclosed porch on the Lawrence Road side, constructed in the 1970s. Original details that remain include wooden brackets flanking the main door and the gable key on the west façade.

The Current Owners

Nancy and John Ould purchased the house in 1973. John Ould worked as a salesman and operated a carpet cleaning business; however, magic has been a real interest. Nancy comes from a family of magicians and John has been a magical entertainer (Jonathon T. Wizard) since the 50s. Their home is commonly referred to as the “wizard’s castle” and the sign which hangs over the door reads “Ye Ould Magic Castle.” The Ould’s maintain a fairytale decor with whimsical gnomes and fairies.

As did the former owners, the Ould’s believe the house is haunted. Joyce Kennedy Mackinnon, daughter of Ivor and Myrtle Kennedy, remembers the attic with access through a trap door in her bedroom. She half believed that the ghost of her great great Aunt Hannah lived there.

The Ould’s thought the noises were Nancy Ould’s deceased mother. Doors used to open and close by themselves and there would be an odour when they walked through. They called in a psychic who identified the spirit as a 40-year old native woman who lived on the land about 100 years earlier. John confronted the spirit and told her to leave. Since then they have had no other occurrances.

On March 27, 2000, 904 Lawrence was also designated under the Ontario Heritage Act and the Ould family was given a bronze plaque commemorating the historical designation of their property.

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