Monday, May 9, 2011

Doors Open Hamilton: Auchmar Estate

This past weekend was Doors Open in Hamilton.  During this amazing volunteer-run annual event, buildings across the city are opened to the public to tour for free.  This year, there were 51 Doors Open sites.

It was a busy weekend for us, but I'm so glad we made time to visit Auchmar - a mid-1850s estate located on the 'Hamilton Mountain' (aka, the Niagara Escarpment).  It was originally built by Sir Isaac Buchanon.  Buchanon was clearly a wealthy guy - he made his fortune as owner of a Hamilton-based wholesale company that became one of the largest and most profitable in the Canadas. 

Auchmar was built in the Gothic Revival style with its arched windows, eleven (!!) chimneys, gables, and French doors.  Unfortunately, time has not been kind to Auchmar.  It was last lived in as a private residence in 1943.  Since then it has been rented by the Royal Canadian Air Force as a rehabilitation centre and, up until 1999, Auchmar was owned by the Hungarian Sisters of Social Service.

In 1999, the property was purchased by the City of Hamilton.  Since then it has sat vacant and, unfortunately, it is currently in desperate need of repair.  Recently, the city announced a four-year plan - not to fix it up, but to keep it from falling down.  After seeing Auchmar firsthand, I definitely feel that this is a piece of architecture worth saving.  Just take a look for yourself:

Not surprisingly, this 'Gothic Revival' house feature lots of Gothic arches.  Just look at that incredible plaster-work!
Clockwise from top right:  A ceiling detail in the Dining Room; one of the house's many fireplaces; and the upstairs hall - a less ornate version of the one found on the ground floor.
On the left is a long view of the downstairs hall.  On the right is the beautifully carved wood stair.
One of the four upstairs baths in the main house.  All of the vanities are made of the same exquisite marble.  That tile is pretty awesome too!
After seeing the inside of Auchmar, it was encouraging to see that so much of the house remains in tact and in relatively good shape.  Hopefully the city's maintenance plan will at least pause the deterioration of Auchmar - buying some valuable time until (somehow) funds can be raised to restore the estate to its original, dignified state.  (Anyone out there have a few spare millions lying around???).

1 comment:

white collar | green soul said...

what I would do for those arches in my hallways..... gorgeous.