130-year-old Ingleside home gets new lease on life

CORNWALL, Ontario - Ingleside residents have no doubt noticed the work being done on a stately old home on Elm Street - but this is no nightmare...for the family of Enid Rupert it's a dream come true.

References to the 1980s movie franchise aside, this home that measures its years going back even further to the 1880s has been a fixture in and around the Stormont County area since well before the there was ever such a thing as the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Internet and even automobiles.

And the home is getting a new lease on life because it is literally being rebuilt from the ground up.

Rupert, who grew up in the home when it was owned by her late father Jimmy Connors and still at Dickinson's Landing before the flooding of the St. Lawrence Seaway, recently got a tour of the home as it is being renovated by Zeran Builders.

Owner Gerry Zeran said the memories were flooding back to Enid - much like the torrent of river water that consumed Dickinson's Landing.

“She was very emotional,” he said. “She would point over there and say ‘That was my room.'”

Rupert is now a resident of the senior's home in nearby Long Sault, and her childhood home is being transformed into a modern dwelling with things like gas heat and modern insulation - things that were unheard of in the 1880s.

“It's impressive what they did with the tools they had available to them back then,” said Zeran, pointing to the ceiling, where a doweled connection holds together the rafters. The dowel is essentially a big wooden nail, holding two pieces of wood together - not exactly cutting-edge technology today, but it was back then.

So were the huge blocks of solid wood that ran the length of the house between outside wall studs. The wood pieces measure as wide as three feet wide, 18 inches tall and some eight inches thick.

It's Zeran's belief the wood pieces were used as insulation. They've all been removed from the house and modern insulation is being put in its place. Zeran plans to convert the wood into tables and other furniture products.

“There was a lot of hard work that went into a house like this, that's for sure,” said Zeran.

He's even uncovered some history during his reno work. He pulled an old newspaper from beneath some floor boards recently. The June 2, 1937 edition of the Standard-Freeholder included an ad for a new Chevy car - it was yours for the princely sum of $745.

The home was built by a Captain Robert Kingston Bullock, in what Zeran and others believe to be the 1880, in Dickinson's Landing. He has been unable to find a specific date for its construction. The home, like dozens of others, was moved to Ingleside when the St. Lawrence Seaway was created in the 1950s.

It had remained vacant for years, until Zeran purchased during an estate sale earlier this year.

His renovation work began this summer, and he plans to have it completed later this fall.

He'll be having an open house once the internal framing is completed, and it's his hope to begin soliciting offers on the property soon thereafter.

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