THE BACKSTORY

The hamlet of Rosehall lies to the south of Hillier village, on the western side of Prince Edward County. At its pinnacle of importance, Rosehall was home to a hundred souls, its wealth built on the foundations of one of the County’s original gristmills, first mentioned specifically in the will of Jacob German read in 1829. German ran the mill in partnership with Jotham Raynor until his death when the Raynor family became the sole mill owners of Rosehall. Around 1870, Jotham’s son George built the striking two-story brick house still standing today, as proud as any in the County’s larger towns. Its classic full-height vestibule with Florentine window, decorative roof corbels, and large bay windows reflect the Italianate mode of architecture prevalent in the County in that period.

The hamlet of Rosehall lies to the south of Hillier village, on the western side of Prince Edward County. At its pinnacle of importance, Rosehall was home to a hundred souls, its wealth built on the foundations of one of the County’s original gristmills, first mentioned specifically in the will of Jacob German read in 1829. German ran the mill in partnership with Jotham Rayner until his death when the Rayner family became the sole mill owners of Rosehall.

Around 1870, Jotham’s son George built the striking two-story brick house still standing today, as proud as any in the County’s larger towns. Its classic full-height vestibule with Florentine window, decorative roof corbels, and large bay windows reflect the Italianate mode of architecture prevalent in the County in that period.

First-time visitors to the Rosehall Farmhouse will wonder at its curious positioning, set far back from Loyalist Parkway, its facade angled towards Hubbs Creek instead of the road. But the hamlet’s milling past provides the explanation. Rayner logically built his farmhouse to face the main road and the millpond. At the time the house was constructed Loyalist Parkway as we know it today didn’t exist. Access to the hamlet was via an old pioneer-colonial route which took an abrupt jog west around the pond before continuing south across the creek over a small bridge as illustrated in the map above.

It wasn’t until sometime after 1960, long after milling activities had ceased, that the pond was filled in to straighten and widen the road that would eventually become Loyalist Parkway. The farmhouse yet looks upon the old bridge and the creek that once turned Rosehall’s mill. Tales pieced together from locals reveal more interesting details about the house as a stagecoach stop on the mail route or a hub for rum runners bootlegging booze across Lake Ontario into the US. If only the walls and woods could speak.

We had heard the last owner to live in the house before us was an avid bird watcher. Prince Edward County lies indeed along bird migratory routes, and the creek attracts dozens of species of birds, making the property a birder's paradise, once we were graced by the regal presence of a snowy owl and more than once we have seen a large heron hunting in the creek.

Not only had the former resident been a bird enthusiast, but he had also an irremediable hoarder.  Over decades slowly every nook and cranny of the house along with a series of old camper vans were filled to the brim until they were unlivable. Eventually, he was forced to abandon the property altogether to mother nature and her creatures.

 

When we bought the house in 2017, it had lost all but a glimmer of its former lustre as the grandest farmhouse in Rosehall. Indeed it was one of the hamlet's grandest eyesores, littered with every conceivable type of small appliance, cars, boats, mountains of tires and more. 

 

We are proud to have brought back some life to this grand old house with our own hard-working hands and the help of many others. It’s not exactly as George Rayner would have remembered it, but we hope he would have been comfortable in it, and we hope you will be too. In the evening you can still sit outside and listen to the babbling creek that once turned the gristmill of Rosehall, the center of life in this little hamlet.

Those more experienced and wise would have demolished the crumbling old neglected house and started fresh. We naively and stubbornly refused and jumped into the deep end. Weeks of bulldozers and excavators and lots of muscle filled countless industrial dumpsters to start, followed by two years of renovations aided by a colourful cast of County tradesmen with tales to rival "A Year in Provence”.    

BEFORE & AFTER PICS

© 2020 Rosehall Farmhouse

© 2020 Rosehall Farmhouse