Nation Valley News
WINCHESTER — The owners of Winchester’s newest bed and breakfast operation celebrated the family name most closely associated with their stately stone home at 528 St. Lawrence St.
Christine Dorothy Fripp and Pierre Milot christened the place “Redmond House” on May 26, unveiling a plaque to that effect as dignitaries and members of the Redmond family looked on from the front steps.
Affixed to house, the plaque formalizes what locals have called the home for many years, up to the present day — following that family’s almost nine-decade stay at the address. It also denotes the year the home was built, in 1885, by a pair of doctors, prior to its purchase by Lyle Redmond’s parents around 1930.
“It was Lyle’s pride and joy, this house,” Mildred Redmond said of her late husband, who grew up and resided in the home for 85 years before spending his final months at Dundas Manor. He died in March last year at age 89.
Mildred also spent her decades of married life with Lyle at the house, where they raised their own family in the expansive dwelling adorned with original, ornate plaster and woodwork. She was still there until last year, when the place was put up for sale.
Enter Christine and Pierre, who happened upon the place while visiting Winchester.
A bemused Pierre marvelled at how his partner suddenly had a hankering to snap up a home many times larger than their then-current house in Martintown.
But buy it they did, and the couple discovered the address had a well-established identity in Winchester.
“Everywhere we [would] go, people said, ‘Oh you’re new town … where do you live?’” Pierre recalled. “We said, ‘We live on St. Lawrence Street, across from the church.’”
The gathering laughed as he recounted his inquisitors’ automatic next reaction: “Oh, the Redmond House.”
“Everywhere we went, it was the Redmond House, the Redmond House. It’ll never be our house, it’ll always be the Redmond House. We may as well name it,” he quipped.
“You pay the mortgage, that’s all,” Mark Redmond, son of Mildred and Lyle, chimed in.
Mark said the family was delighted with the improvements already achieved by the new owners. “Fixing the steps, seeing the work and the progress … that means so much to our family, it really does. It could have been an apartment building … it’s still a home, and we know it’s going to be,” he said. “That’s the best part.”
Christine said the occasion was “a very, very special day” for herself, Pierre and the Redmonds.
In its heyday for the Redmonds, the house also served as the business headquarters for their sand and gravel operation (sold off 35 years ago). An impressive, commercial-looking garage and large paved area remain in the back yard as testament to that industrious past.
Mark said that when his grandparents bought the house — before his time — men looking for work would line up on the sidewalk each morning to manually fetch loads of sand from the family quarry operation.
The Redmonds had looked at one other old home in Winchester before settling on 528 St. Lawrence, according to Mildred. It had been unoccupied for awhile, except for a pigeon or two, she added.
A huge mound of coal ash on the floor of the attached woodshed greeted his grandparents, Mark recounted, possibly accumulated since the home’s 1885 construction. The pile reached so high, the new occupants had to bend over to avoid hitting their heads on a beam before reaching the back door of the home. The shed is long gone, as is the summer kitchen, all replaced by a modern addition in the 1980s.
Multiple generations of Redmonds lived in the house simultaneously. “A grandmother, great-grandmother and a mother were all here at the same time,” he said.
Though the place is huge, it only had one bathroom during the Redmonds’ time. “We also had a big pool table in the basement,” Mark reminisced.
That day’s special recognition for the home was entirely private as the Township of North Dundas does not confer municipal heritage status on buildings.
See the unveiling of the plaque, below.