I can be impressed by houses, and unimpressed as well. Persuaded by them and also left cold. I’ve fallen for shacks one day and loathed some wannabe mansions the next. But what’s much more rare is for me to be moved by a house, to feel in its gracious principal rooms, and in the way light is pushed around by its original glass, an emotional heft that really floors me. 56 Alwington Avenue (circa 1841) is that house.
I was looking over the photos this morning in order to write a few words of description, and I realized, and not for the first time, that that this is simply one of the prettiest houses I’ve seen. The photos render my prose wholly inadequate, it becomes wan and dull in comparison.
The home is grand, and thrillingly alive with historical detail. The floor-to-ceiling original windows, for example, the likes of which I’ve never seen, and the diminutive but still grand double doors at the entry, with paint so thick on them it’s like an armour. Or the centre hall plan, from which you survey in every direction floors burnished by a century and a half of socked and booted feet to an un-reproduceable patina. You just can’t fake this.
I also like very much the way the formal and high-ceilinged dining room gives onto the screened porch and from there onto private stone patios and impossible, verdant depths of English country garden. And the bank of high windows in the very tall kitchen. There’s a religious feeling to that room, and I’m not a religious guy. I choose to picture monks filing in, at the end of a long day spent working the gardens, to finish their bread or their beer.
The plainer details - three bedrooms on the second floor, two bathrooms, a more modern family room at the rear, 2900 square feet, etc etc - just serve to distract from the overall effect, which is of being transported not just through time, but to an altogether better place.
Here are more of the measurements via Realtor.ca. And here’s the wonderful tour.
* The old pictures of the property are marvellous too. The details they add to the house’s story. The way they show that Alwington Avenue was out in the country pretty much, a hundred and some years ago.