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Friday, April 19, 2024
Niagara’s History Unveiled: Mansions of Queen Street III


This is the final instalment of a three-part series looking at some of the magnificent houses of NOTL’s historic Queen Street. Read the first part here, and the second part here.

228 Queen St., Ketchum-Thomas-Phillips House or “Peace Acres”

The main structure of the residence was built in 1877-79 by George and Mary Ketchum. However, the Ketchums had financial difficulties and in the 1878 tax rolls the house is listed as unfinished and worth $2,000. By 1879, the Ketchums sold the unfinished house for $2,700. It was said that they got just enough money to pay off their creditors.

The next owner was Henry Strathy, who owned the property for five years but never lived in the place. He rented it out periodically.

From 1885 to 1901 the home went through six ownerships until Edwin Thomas bought the property for $4,000 for his wife Flora Thomas. An architect from Buffalo was brought in and the home went through extensive renovations.

Stylistically, the building is an amalgamation of a number of revival styles including neo-Classical Revival and neo-Greek Revival with generous, light-filled reception rooms, spacious bedrooms, screened porches and a multiplicity of fireplaces.

Over the years various owners have renovated and added to the house, but have always maintained and enhanced the look and character of the original house. It is a typical example of a summer home for a wealthy American business operator.

The Palladian window is a bit of a mystery. It is unknown just when the window became a feature of the home. There are no photos and no conclusive architectural drawings available to indicate the date of the installation.

Thomas in 1920 sold the house and land to his daughter Elizabeth and her new husband, Maj. George Ryerson, who named the home Peace Acres. This was a second marriage for both of them. In 1924, Elizabeth died and a year later the major died.

The estate was sold in 1925 to the de Graff family for the grand sum of $30,000. By 1955, the property was sold once more, this time to the Phillips family.

By the first decade of the 21st century, the Phillips property has been owned by several companies, all which have tried to develop this parcel into a hotel and spa. Most of the original property behind the house was severed off and large modern homes were built.

The development of the property had been put on hold by current owner Rainer Hummel, but he now has a proposal before the town for a 72-room hotel, restaurant and spa to be built.

284 Queen St.

Built in 1899, this was the summer home of American lumber giant Watt S. Lansing, who purchased a four-acre block which had previously been set aside for the clergy.

This house is arguably one of the loveliest homes in this part of town, with landscaped gardens, outstanding views of Lake Ontario and the NOTL golf course.

Lansing was a recognized member of town society. He was active with the lawn bowling club and golf club, and attended St. Mark’s Anglican Church. Both he and his daughter are buried in the graveyard there.

Later the house was purchased by the Charles Weston family.

328 Queen St. – Lakewinds

This house on its original lot dates back to 1881 and was a small two-and-one-half storey building owned by Mrs. Russell until 1895.

In 1895, Gustav Fleischmann bought the house and made it the family summer home. Fleischmann was a distiller from Buffalo but the name is better known today for margarine.

In 1903-04, work was begun to expand the building. Extensive additions, including balconies, were added to the front and sides of the home. In fact, it was noted that the small house totally disappeared within the new design of the Fleischmann home. Staff cottages and a stable were built and the gardens were professionally created.

With prohibition, Fleischmann saw his business decline and the home was sold to Conrad Wettlauffer, a physician from Buffalo.

The Wettlauffer family purchased the place in 1912, enlarging the home even more. The house was now so large that the family was noted for hosting grand dinners during the summer months for their Republican friends from Buffalo.

It is now the Lakewinds Country Manor B&B, purchased by Stephen & Jane Locke, who renovated the home once again in 1994. They sold it in 2017.

Many of the homes along this part of Queen Street are quite recent additions to the town. Most were built to be summer homes only. In fact, one home I researched didn’t have any heating system at all until the late 20th century.

These beautiful homes and fabulous landscaped gardens have added a touch of magic to Niagara-on-the-Lake.


To learn more about the topic of this story you can visit the Niagara Historical Society & Museum website at, www.niagarahistorical.museum, or visit the museum for yourself.

The Niagara Historical Museum is located at 43 Castlereagh St. in Old Town, in Memorial Hall. Visit, or give them a call at 905-468-3912.

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