Historic Amherstburg home gets national distinction

The Park House Museum, Amherstburg. Photo provided by Park House Museum official website.

The Government of Canada has recognized one of Windsor-Essex’s oldest and most beloved homes.

The Park House Museum in Amherstburg has been given national historic significance by Parks Canada, and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. A plaque commemorating this distinction was unveiled last weekend.

According to Parks Canada, the house was first built at the mouth of the Rouge River, just south of Detroit, in the 1790s, when Detroit was still a British-held settlement. After Detroit was ceded to the United States, the house was dismantled, moved down the Detroit River, and rebuilt in Amherstburg. The structure was a focal point of the international fur trade between the U.S. and Britain.

The Park House is significant because it is a rare surviving example of a colonial American form of architecture that uses French-Canadian architectural terminology.

“The Park House features a variant on pièce-sur-pièce construction known as poteaux-en-coulisse, or a grooved post,” according to Parks Canada. “The pièce-sur-pièce method of construction, in which squared horizontal members are closely placed one above the other, was once an important feature of the landscape of New France. The technique involves vertical corner and wall posts that are mortised in order to receive the tenoned ends of horizontal fill logs, which slide down one atop the other. As fur traders moved west along the Great Lakes, they brought with them the work of skilled artisans, which facilitated the spread of pièce-sur-pièce construction.”

The Park family purchased the home in the 1820s for use in the region’s growing shipping industry. Dr Theodore Park, a local physician, used the house as his office from 1881 to 1936. The house has sat on its current location on Dalhousie Street since 1972.

Events at the Park House Museum include a new exhibit on the history of the Boblo Island amusement park. The first phase, which opened Tuesday, concentrates on the beloved attraction. The second phase, set to open in the summer of 2020, will focus on the pre-amusement park history of the island. The museum will also be part of the annual Amherstburg River Lights Festival, opening on Saturday and running through January 5, 2020.

Complete information on the museum’s historical significance can be found at the official Parks Canada website.