O'Brien HouseO'Brien House

38 South St. South
, Port Robinson

Reasons for Designation Under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act

Cultural Heritage Value
This property offers a unique insight into the waxing and waning of fortunes of residents of Port Robinson, which enjoyed considerable economic prosperity when it was the southern terminus of the 1st and 2nd Welland Canal as it linked to the Welland River (Chippewa Creek) in the mid nineteenth century.  It is one of the only properties in Thorold to have retained such decorative ornamentation (gingerbread).

Architectural Value
This  attractive house is a 1-1/2 storey timber framed building with Victorian Farmhouse floor plan, popular in the mid 19th century Ontario, while embracing a certain amount of creative license in its ornamentation through recourse with Picturesque and Gothic Revival aesthetics.  Noteworthy details include the off-centre front door, sawn verge-board (gingerbread) tracery along the front gable end facade, the generous two-sided pagoda style roofed verandah, overhanging eaves and horizontal clapboard siding.  The house occupies its original site.  The layout of the house is typical of a small dwelling style commonly found in Niagara in the mid 19th century.  The gabled roof is steep pitched with verge board ornamentation on the front gable end.  Most of the windows contain original or heritage class panes.  The verandah reveals a fondness for wraparound verandahs from early 1840's on.

Historical Value
Robert Elliot owned the lot on which this house sits, for 6 years before selling it in 1868 to John Nelson O’Brien, an Engineer.  With a remarkable 600% increase in purchase price makes it probable that the property had been expanded and that O’Brien had built a house.  In 1887 the property was sold to the Grisdales and belonged to them 17 years.  There have been several other owners.

The history of the property and house, its owners and residents, is closely tied to the economic development of Port Robinson brought about by the development of the Welland Canal and associated industrial, commercial and infrastructural interests.  Within the context of other mid nineteenth century structures in the village, the property also serves as a useful benchmark in the evolution and stylistic range of the Victorian Farmhouse idiom - and especially its attempts to emulate the so-called Ontario Cottage style.  Through the history of this house we are granted an unparalleled insight into a range of lives of working and middle class Ontarians.

For description and images of other designated properties, please click links below.

Designated Properties

Allanburg Heritage Oak Tree
Allanburg United Church
Allanburg Village Cemetery

Beaverdams Burying Grounds

Beaverdams Methodist Church & Graveyard

Beckett’s Reserve, Duncan McFarland House,
Stephen Beatty House

Calcott-Walker House

Camp House

Carl, Misener, Bald Cemetery

Carnegie Library

Carr-Millar-McMillan Block
Carroll-Tracy House
Carter-Holland House

Chestnut Hall

Constable House

Decew Young House

Decou House Monument

Dobbie House
Dominion Government Building
East Side School Bell
Fire Bell

First Presbyterian Church

Flannery House
Fraser-McMann House
George Bouk House

Grenville House

Griffiths House
Kennedy-Ward House
L.G. Lorriman/Central School
Lynch House
Macartney Drug Store

Memorial Park

Millar House
Millstone - Welland Mills

Moore-Lampman House
Munro House
O'Brien House
Old Firehall
Port Robinson Brick School

Quebec Bank

Robert Elliot House

Ross House

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church

Sir Edward Beatty House

Stewart House

The Stone Store

Trinity United Church
War Memorial

Welland Canal 2nd River Lock

Welland Mills