Blake Ellis/Local Journalism Initiative
Two homes have been added to the long list of historical buildings in Petrolia.
The homes at 4233 Emma Street and 425 Chestnut Street were designated under the Ontario Heritage Act Sunday.
Terry Syers of the Petrolia Heritage Advisory Committee called Petrolia “a living museum” which tells the history of the community through its many heritage designated buildings and homes.
“We value their commitment and drive to preserve not only the architectural heritage and craftsmanship, but also the cultural and family history of these properties,” he said.
Susan McEwan and Jeff Harvey have owned the Emma Street home near Crescent Park for 17 years. The large five-bedroom red brick home was constructed in the 1870s but Harvey said there is actually some debate on what year the home was actually built. A large portion of the home is an addition to the original home.
It was built by Henry Warren Lancey and was first owned by Charles Jenkins of Petrolia Crude Oil and Tank Company. A later owner was Frederick Edwards, who was a prominent oil driller. It is believed Lawrence of Arabia rescued him in the Middle East during an oil expedition.
Some of the architectural features of the home include the original stained glass around the front door and in the dining hall, the original wrap around porch and front stairway, a butler’s pantry, unique radiators with lattice design and decorative corbels around the porch. There are the original sunroom sliding doors, the original high baseboard and crown moldings and an arts and craft style fireplace.
Laurissa and Ross Ellsworth have owned the home at 425 Chestnut Street since 2013. They are the only the fifth owners of the home since it was built in 1885. They have done considerable work to restore the home and taken care to bring it back to its original state, said Laurissa. “A lot of blood, sweat and tears” have been put into the home, said Ross.
The Chestnut Street home was built in the Italianate Villa style and is near Crescent Park. One of its owners was John MacDonald who founded the boiler works and was one of the largest oil producers in Petrolia. He built the National Oil Company refinery, which he operated for over 20 years. He was one of the first to import casing and tubings from England for oil wells. His community work involved serving on Petrolia Council and the school board.
Some of the features of the home include floor to ceiling windows on the front of the house, an original slate fireplace and a tiled hearth. There is a coloured plaster decorative medallion on the kitchen ceiling, while two other decorative medallions on the dining room ceiling and on the ceiling in the front entry. The front door is original to the home made from wood and glazed glass inserts. The home has its original slate roof with a decorative roof cresting. It also has a quarried stone foundation and a basement with a built in safe with the original owners name on it.
Petrolia currently has 38 Ontario Heritage Designated properties, which is the most designated properties in Ontario per capita, doubling Stratford at a rate of two to one.