For the week of Monday, April 19, 2021
On April 19, 1856, Dr. Theodore James Park was born in Amherstburg, Ontario. He was the long-time resident of Park House—a rare example of a once-common colonial building type and one of the oldest homes in the Detroit River area.
It is widely thought that Park House was built in the Detroit area in the second half of the 18th century and then floated down the Detroit River to Upper Canada by Loyalists after the passage of the Jay Treaty in 1796, when Britain ceded the territory west of the Detroit River to the United States. Its architecture reflects the historical French presence in the Detroit River area. This can be seen, for example, in its asymmetrical design, centre-passage plan, and French-framed poteaux-en-coulisse (grooved post) construction, using yellow poplar (tulip tree) and other local materials.
Its original waterfront location in a transborder region of southern Ontario made this combined home and warehouse a strategic base for traders and merchants, including the brothers Thomas, John, and Theodore Park, who purchased the residence in 1839. Originally from Framingham, Massachusetts, the Park brothers ran a general merchandising and forwarding business from Amherstburg and Colchester. Park House became Theodore Park’s primary residence. In 1881, his eldest surviving son, Dr. Theodore James Park, opened his medical practice there upon his return from the University of Toronto. He subsequently lived in the north side addition of the house, which he turned into a medical office.
Park House had several different owners and uses in the years that followed. Fearing for its survival, in 1972 Amherstburg residents raised funds to purchase and move the building to its current site, where it was transformed into a local museum.
Park House has been designated a national historic site. The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC) advises the Government of Canada on the commemoration of national historic sites, which can include a wide range of historic places such as gardens, cemeteries, complexes of buildings and cultural landscapes.
The National Program of Historical Commemoration relies on the participation of Canadians in the identification of places, events and persons of national historic significance. Any member of the public can nominate a topic for consideration by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Information on how to participate in this process is available here: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/culture/clmhchsmbc/ncp-pcn