HISTORIC WALKING TOUR - HERITAGE HOMES
1 – THE W.J. CARLING HOME
73 Huron Street West
Built by William Carling, son of Isaac Carling Sr., this stately home is one of Exeter’s designated heritage properties. The house was sold to George and Ellen Bedford of Brighton, Ontario where Mr. Carling subsequently relocated with his family.
2 – THE BENJAMIN V. ELLIOTT HOME
565 Main Street South
This stately house was built by Exeter’s first solicitor, Mr. Benjamin V. Elliott, who arrived in Exeter in 1860 to practice law. His family grew to include 10 children – enough to fill all the rooms in the home. Mr. Elliott’s law office was located on Exeter’s Main Street, a few blocks north of his residence.
3 – THE THOMAS CARLING HOME
527 Main Street South
Thomas Carling was another son of Isaac Carling Sr., one of Exeter’s earliest settlers. The house, reported to have been built in 1885, features the typical Italianate style of architecture. Experience the heritage charm of this home while enjoying a meal at Eddington’s of Exeter.
4 – THE WILLIS HOMESTEAD
18 Simcoe Street
When James and Jane Willis made their way along the Huron Tract in the early 1830s, they chose this plot of land to build their first home. Originally, a log cabin was built to house the Willis family but in later years, as the settlement grew, a more substantial brick home was built that still stands today.
5 – THE BIBLE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
42 James Street
Built in 1862 (note the date inscribed above the southwest entrance door), this church was funded by Mr. James Pickard. The church was originally served by circuit riders that provided spiritual enlightenment to those of the faith community. In 1884, the Bible Christian Church became James Street Methodist Church and in more recent years, Exeter United Church, by which it is presently known. The building marked its 150th anniversary in 2012.
6 – THE BENJAMIN O’NEILL HOME
431 Albert Street
Benjamin O`Neill was the first owner of this grand home built in the late 1880s. Mr. O`Neill established Exeter’s only private bank, where today the law office of Raymond and MacLean is located. He continued to offer his financial services to Exeter until 1903, when his bank was purchased by the Sovereign Bank.
7 – JAMES STREET METHODIST CHURCH MANSE
422 Albert Street
This stately yellow brick home was completed in 1896 and served as the parsonage for the James Street Methodist Church that was established in 1884.
8 – THE GEORGE SAMWELL HOME
82 John Street East
George Samwell was the business partner and neighbour of Richard Pickard. Mr. Samwell, like many of the original settlers to the area, emigrated from Devonshire, England. He built this stately home in 1880, with grounds surrounding the entire block.
9 – THE RICHARD PICKARD HOME
66 John Street East
This home was owned by successful businessman Richard Pickard, who arrived in Exeter in 1855, and was one of only 14 homes in the settlement in its day. The initials R.P. can be seen above the centre window over the front door. Richard Pickard partnered with George Samwell in a dry goods establishment located on Main.
10 – THE ROBERT PICKARD HOME
56 John Street East
Richard Pickard built this home for his son Robert – the house is located immediately to the west of the original family home. Much of the Victorian elegance of this home and its original features, including the stained glass windows imported from England, have been preserved.
11 – THE THOMAS BISSETT HOME
345 William Street
This quaint cottage-style home with its covered front veranda and gingerbread trim, was built by Isaac Carling Sr. The house was presented to his son in-law, Thomas Bissett, after he married Mr. Carling’s daughter. A member of the Bissett family resided in the home until 1991.
12 – THE CHARLES GIDLEY HOME
231 William Street
A cabinetmaker by trade, Charles Gidley built this beautiful home on what was described as “a triple lot in a grove of pine and honey locust trees.” The house itself remains a tribute to Gidley’s skills as a builder. Still standing and providing a shady respite on sunny days is one of Ontario’s oldest butternut trees.
13 – TRIVITT MEMORIAL ANGLICAN CHURCH
264 Main Street
This church, completed in 1888, was replicated from the Exeter Cathedral, located in Devon, England, from where many of the first arrivals to Exeter originated. Funding for the project was generously provided by Thomas Trivitt and his wife Elizabeth, both of whom were laid to rest beneath the church they loved. Their names are inscribed on the massive bells that hang in the church tower.