The oldest house in London, Ontario is open to the public and well worth the visit. It is situated down town on the river and just down the street from the Museum London if you want to visit both places in the same day. When I visited the house in December it was undergoing some decorating work upstairs and restoration work outside. By the summer of 2017 the scaffolding will be gone and the house will be ready for visitors to see the exterior in all its glory.
Entrance fee is by donation and there is a self-guided tour with the help of explanatory boards in each room. The house is usually open from noon to 5:00 pm. On Wednesdays and Sundays admission is free. Check out the website for events throughout the year from behind the scenes tours to a Mothers Day event to a New Years Day Levee.
I went in December and the house was decorated for Christmas. However, the upstairs was not finished so I was only able to tour the ground floor. I will definitely be back to check out the rest of the house and, in better weather, the grounds. According to the website, the gardens have been recreated to the 1920s and 1870s based on family photos, historical seed catalogues, magazines and articles by experts from the university of Western Ontario and the University of Guelph and I look forward to exploring them this spring and summer.
The builder of the house, John Harris, hails from Devon. The house was built in 1834 for John and his wife Amelia and their eight children. The family increased in size by two after they moved in. One of the sons, Edward, and his wife built an addition in the late 1870s housing a ballroom, a new kitchen and a servants living rom. The ballroom is now furnished as a drawing room. Another son, George took possession from Edward who had financial troubles. George and his wife, Lucy, made a number of improvements during their tenure as owners such as electricity.
Many of the artifacts in the house were owned by the family. George and Lucy’s children, Ronald and Amelia, travelled extensively and brought items home from their trips. Amelia (Milly) was one of the last family members to live in the house. She died in 1959 at 90 years of age. It was her brother’s children who decided to give the house to the City of London. Since 1961 the house has been a museum – a view into the history of this family and the times they lived in in this city.
Though there is not much parking available at the house, there are parking lots within a few minutes walk.