Shaw House

 Image - Shaw House

Historical Background

The Shaw house was built in 1894-6 by Francis E. Shaw, Sawmill owner, to plans provided by George F. Barber of Knoxville, Tennessee.

George Franklin Barber was born in 1854 in De Kalb, Illinois and grew up on a farm near Fort Scott, Kansas. He became an architect and established himself (for health reasons) in Knoxville, Tennessee where he developed a "mail-order architecture" business. His books of designs invited the purchasers to order the detailed plans which could be customized. In some cases Barber could arrange for all the required material to be shipped as well.

This particular house is virtually identical to Barber's prototype in De Kalb, Illinois. It was featured in the March, 1888 issue of Carpentry and Building (a trade magazine) and plans were offered in Barber's catalogue "The Cottage Souvenir No. 2", published in 1891. (reprinted 1982).

The Shaw house is the most important example yet identified in Canada of Barber's work and is therefore a house of national architectural significance. The residence has survived with little alteration to the exterior, saving the regrettable, but restorable loss of the original colour scheme. The interior, remarkable for its fine woodwork and effective use of stained glass panels, is little changed.

In addition to its architectural significance, the Shaw house is historically significant as the most ambitious wooden house ever built in Elmvale and one of the best preserved of the Victorian/Queen Anne style residences. The association with the Shaw family, pioneer mill-owners at Midway, Craighurst and Elmvale is also important.

Designated Features

The important characteristics and features worthy of designation and protection are:

1. the original room layout and the building perimeter plan;

2. the location, size and designs of the doors and windows;

3. the exterior wooden finish and the accompanying wood trim;

4. the roofline and chimneys;

5. the location and elevation of the buildings;

6. the interior painted or varnished wood trim, mouldings, doors, painted or varnished wooden floors and dados;

7. the door latches, hinges, and builder's hardware throughout;

8. the lathe and plaster interior finish.