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Address: 6599 Fourth Line [Main Street]

Location: not on file

Date and Fabric: 1896 two storey frame residence/store/post office, now apartments.

Known Owners:

Hiram Scott 1896 - 1925
William and Sarah Pratt 1926 - 1957
Wilbur Brown 1957 - 1959
Ann Gilhuly 1959 - see narrative
Smith 1986 -

photograph 1997

Other photographs on file from 1990, 1986 and from both before and after the 1957 conversion. Some of these are obviously quite early but unfortunately not dated; some pre-1937, since they show the "Post Office" sign.

See also "Presence of the Past" for January, 1987.

This large building on the east side of Main Street now [1986] contains four apartments but it was once the North Gower Post Office and the elegant residence and store of long-time village postmaster Hiram Scott. In 1895, a fire destroyed the previous building on the site and Mr Scott built this replacement with the assistance of many of his neighbours, who took their wagons to Osgoode to bring back lumber for construction.

The Scott family lived in the southern [recessed] half of the building and operated the Post Office and a dry goods and grocery store in the northern half. Mr Scott was village postmaster from 1870 to 1924 and was described as a "merchant" in the deeds of the village land purchases he made in the early 1870's.

Inside the Post Office room a large counter ran in front of two walls, and when the post arrived everyone gathered around the counter to collect the mail. Twice daily Alec Haggins made the hour-long, horse-powered trip to Osgoode Station, carrying the mail and passengers. He usually returned to North Gower at about six p.m. and post office hours were often determined by the time of his arrival. Mrs. Charles Pratt remembered one night when, due to bad weather, the mail didn't arrive until 10 p.m. and people were still gathered around the counter at eleven o'clock.

Mr. Scott constructed an attractive building with decorative brackets under the eaves, large windows with elliptical frames, and verandahs with decorative trim and wide steps across the front of both the commercial and the residential sections. Like many other village residences of the period, the house also had a three room extension at the rear to provide for a summer kitchen, woodshed, and stable. The extension included a loft to store hay for the team of horses and two cows kept in the stable.

After Hiram Scott's death in 1925, two of his daughters lived on in the house and one of them, Emma, was Postmistress until 1937. In that year a third daughter, Sarah, and her husband William Pratt moved into the house and the Post Office was moved across the street to the house of the new Postmaster, Mr. Rex Craig.

In 1948 the building narrowly escaped destruction when fire swept through the four corners at the heart of the village. Mr. Pratt recalled that the building was blistered with the heat. It was saved only because pails of water were thrown on the exterior from the street and from the attic windows.

In 1957 the Pratts sold the property to Wilbur Brown who converted it to apartments, with the lamentable results apparent today. The verandahs and virtually all the decorative trim came off, mottled grey insulbrick went on, and the ceilings were lowered from about twelve feet to about nine. The present structure does however retain the basic shape of the original, including the two storey bay window on the south facade.

Registry records indicate that the lot was sold to Ann Gilhuly in 1959 but local residents identified the owner as a Mr. Smith. While a Mr. Smith was party to a 1958 agreement for sale and a 1961 Mechanic's Lien, he does not seem to have acquired actual title until 1986. In any event, the building was again for sale in the summer of 1986. [after Peter Davidson, 1986. Sources 2, 4]

Since Mr. Davidson drafted this in 1986, the insulbrick has been covered with beige aluminum siding which also encloses the former bay window. This is no doubt an improvement over the 1986 appearance of the building, but it is far from restoring the charm of the original.

[D. Bartlett, 1990]

March, 1990

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