London ball

A wrecking ball could threaten one of the most photographed homes in Canada

PALMYRA – For decades, Guyitt House on the outskirts of this small Chatham-Kent hamlet has slowly faded from its original grandeur to its current dilapidated state.

Content of the article

PALMYRA – For decades, Guyitt House on the outskirts of this small Chatham-Kent hamlet has slowly faded from its original grandeur to its current dilapidated state.

Advertisement 2

Content of the article

Surrounded by farmland, the rural house on Talbot Trail often attracts the attention of photographers and artists who stop along old Route 3 to capture images of how the ravages of time have stood the house nearly 200 years old.

Content of the article

But a different set of eyes were fixed on it a few weeks ago, when current owner Peter Anderson received a letter from the Municipality of Chatham-Kent informing him that the house had broken its by-law on ownership standards.

He had two weeks to either demolish the house built in the 1840s or repair it.

If he does not do this, the letter warns, the building will be demolished by the municipality at his expense.

Peter Anderson points to where heart and diamond-shaped woodwork once adorned the Guyitt House, purchased by his grandparents Roy and Ethel Guyitt in 1908. (Ellwood Shreve/Postmedia Network)
Peter Anderson points to where heart and diamond-shaped woodwork once adorned the Guyitt House, purchased by his grandparents Roy and Ethel Guyitt in 1908. (Ellwood Shreve/Postmedia Network)

An appeal has now been filed, granting the home a temporary stay of execution until early next year when a hearing is due to take place. Anderson, however, does not want to publicly discuss the settlement issue.

Advertisement 3

Content of the article

However, he would like to know who filed the complaint and why.

“I just wished anyone who complained had spoken to me,” Anderson said, adding that he would have been willing to discuss any concerns.

Some have called it the most photographed house in Canada. When Anderson walked out of the property Thursday afternoon, he said there were half a dozen people taking pictures of the house.

“I don’t make a dime leaving this house standing,” Anderson said.

He said the house has personal historical value – and represents fond memories – as the longtime residence of his grandparents.

This is the living room of the Guyitt house, purchased by Roy and Ethel Guyitt in 1908. The room once housed a grand piano.  (Ellwood Shreve/Postmedia Network)
This is the living room of the Guyitt house, purchased by Roy and Ethel Guyitt in 1908. The room once housed a grand piano. (Ellwood Shreve/Postmedia Network)

His grandparents, Roy and Ethel Guyitt, bought the house in 1908, and his mother, Isabelle, and uncle Earl grew up there.

In its heyday, “the house was a centerpiece because my grandfather made an effort to keep it a centerpiece,” Anderson said.

Advertisement 4

Content of the article

The house had a living room with a grand piano. Outside, there was once a circular driveway lined with towering pine trees while a garden adorned the facade.

There was also a cattle barn and a tobacco shed on the property years ago.

Peter Anderson looks over the west side of the Guyitt House, purchased by his grandparents Roy and Ethel Guyitt in 1908. (Ellwood Shreve/Postmedia Network)
Peter Anderson looks over the west side of the Guyitt House, purchased by his grandparents Roy and Ethel Guyitt in 1908. (Ellwood Shreve/Postmedia Network)

He said the Guyitt family owned a number of farms in the Palmyra area, dating back to when his great-grandfather, Walter Guyitt, established the first farm.

Anderson said his mother inherited this farm, including the house, after her uncle died in 1976. She rented the house for five or six years, but it sat vacant in the decades that followed, he added.

There was a significant social media response to news that the house was potentially at risk of demolition, including an online petition to save it. But city officials say they were obligated to respond to the complaint about the house.

Advertisement 5

Content of the article

“We are looking into the complaint, see if it violates any of our regulations and if so, we need to follow up on it,” said Chatham-Kent building manager Paul Lacina. “We have to apply the regulations as they are prescribed.”

As for the appeal, Lacina said the property standards appeal board can decide to uphold the municipality’s order, vary that order, or make a different decision out of those two options.

East Kent County John Wright said the appeal of the demolition or repair order stemmed from a site meeting held on Wednesday.

(Ellwood Shreve/Postmedia Network)
(Ellwood Shreve/Postmedia Network)

He added that the municipality had agreed that nothing would happen to the famous house before the hearing.

Wright was not surprised by the public reaction: “It’s the most photographed house ever and it falls gracefully.”

The councillor, who also sits on the town’s heritage committee, said a plan is in the works for the property to receive heritage designation.

Anderson said he appreciated the outpouring of support, noting that many neighbors had called him out, but noted that would not change what might happen in the future. He said a complaint and a letter could “disrupt the course of this house’s history”.

Advertising

Advertisement 1

comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user follows you comments. Visit our Community Rules for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.