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THEN & NOW: The Bird house

Home at 84 Wellington St. E. has many Gothic Revival features, from its steep roof, two end chimneys, centre bay and lovely front entrance

This ongoing series from Barrie Historical Archive curator Deb Exel shows old photos from the collection and one from the present day.

84 Wellington St. E. – A Bird House

Many are familiar with the Shearman Bird house Sans Souci. If you’re not, we can catch you up here.

Shearman and Amoi Bird’s son, Eustace, was an extremely successful architect as well. A graduate of Barrie Collegiate Institute, he had many international commissions (houses, hospitals and other buildings) in Europe and England, and closer to home, several important projects in Toronto and other Ontario and Newfoundland locations.

Eustace and his business partner, Eden Smith, designed several impressive homes around Barrie, including:

Glen Ormond at 11 Rodney St., built by George Ball in 1895 originally for John Dickinson who was a lawyer, surveyor and civil engineer. It was sold in 1910 to the head of a New Orleans, La., lumber company T.D. Rees. Rees used the property as a summer home, bringing the family and staff by private railcar to Barrie each year. He later sold the home, boats and all the furnishings at public auction in 1929. Urban legend says the fake floor in the vault, painted wall mural, iron doors and bar in the basement all point to the alleged gambling that took place there during the Second World War.

Sanford’s Grand Opera House, built on Collier Street in 1895. The Opera House was home to all types of theatre and silent films. It was partially destroyed by fire in 1926.

77 Mary St., the home of Alfred J. Carson who ran a popular tonsorial parlour at the back of Bethell’s cigar store 'The Old Reliable' on Dunlop Street. Although Carson was but a young man, he was known to be an exceptional barber.

* After the death of his father, Sans Souci was too much house for his widowed mother. Eustace designed a new home for her at 88 Sophia St. E.

And, of course, the home we want to talk about today: Captain E.G. Bird’s home at 84 Wellington St. E. (also numbered 80 Wellington St. at one time), which was built about 1874 or 1875. The pretty house has many Gothic Revival features from its steep roof, gables with bargeboards, verge boards (sometimes referred to as gingerbread), two end chimneys, a centre bay and the lovely front entrance with its sidelights and transom.

The original owner of the home was David Dougall, a cabinet maker and furniture factory owner who had a shop located at 16 Dunlop St. The house had three more owners until 1922, when it was sold to Eustace Bird for $3,400. The home remained in the Bird family until Miss Isobel E. Bird passed away in 1976.