In 1897 the Fry family built themselves a house in Brigus that would stay in the family until 2014. It was then, and is now, an impressive home. The double bay windows, the mansard roof, the two fireplaces with detailed mantles, the high ceilings – these are details of a finer home.
Those details, along with the original mouldings, wainscoting, floors and ceilings, were carefully restored by the next owner of the house, who also added a sun room and a kitchen extension to the back of the house. The main floor bathroom became a laundry room, an upstairs bedroom was converted to a sizable bathroom, and the kitchen was updated to modern standards. Aside from those changes, the house remains largely original, retaining its heritage charm.
It was that charm, and a hard to describe feeling, that made the newest owner, Donna McDonald, fall in love with the house as soon as she crossed the threshold.
“When I come here, it’s just peace,” she says. “It’s just a feeling I get when I walk in the house.”
She had been looking for an old house for about five years and had contemplated buying land to build a new version of an old saltbox home. But then she found a house in Brigus – not this one – that was worth a look. It wasn’t, however, worth buying, and Donna left Brigus, passing the Fry house with its “for sale” sign out front.
“The lady who owned it was out on the front step and I said “Stop the truck! I walked in the porch and I was barely in the door and I said, ‘I’m having this house.’”
Sitting in the front parlour, in front of the fireplace, it’s easy to forget what century you’re in. And that’s just how Donna likes it. She has plans to furnish the place entirely with vintage pieces, slowly replacing the more modern furniture.
“I want it to look as close to 1897 without sacrificing comfort and some modern conveniences,” she says. “In the living room, I’ll eventually have two day beds, that’s my goal.”
Donna plans to use the house as much as she can, but is also looking at allowing others to enjoy its heritage charm by renting it out as a holiday home on days she can’t be in Brigus.
After years of searching, Donna still finds herself surprised to have found exactly what she was looking for.
“I still wake up in the mornings and go, ‘I can’t believe I own this house,’” she says.