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Stouffville looks to create four new conservation districts in the Main Street area
June 13, 2022

When Stephanie Schuhmann and John McGuire moved to Stouffville during the pandemic, the goal was to slow life down.

“We moved from the city and wanted to have a quieter pace,” Schuhmann said.

It was their love for heritage properties and close-knit communities that drew them to the town. They moved into a heritage home on Second Street, just north of Main Street, and while the couple thought it was a beautiful place to live, they had little idea the property was in line for a heritage award.

The home was built in 1887 in the Ontario gothic style. The home was originally built for David Williams, a hostler who tended horses for a hotel.

It was also the longtime home of David Grove, a retired farmer, and Allen B. Closson, who owned a nearby onion storage barn.

Earlier this month, the town presented the couple with an inaugural heritage award for the property.

“Those who have made contributions to this property are to be commended for the impressive sympathetic additions and seamless modern extensions all in keeping with the home’s original style,” Krista Rauchenstein, curator and supervisor at the Whitchurch-Stouffville Museum, said.

McGuire said the back extension of the house is a real stand with wooden barn beams 30 feet off the ground. The home also has some flooring from the early 20th century in the kitchen and dining room.

While the couple took home the residential award, the Stouffville Junction received the commercial heritage award.

Formerly known as the Mansion House Hotel, the building on 6162 Main Street was built around 1879 by Elijah Miller.

Originally servicing business travellers who arrived by train, it accommodated 75 to 100 guests. It was considered one of the best hotels north of Toronto.

It had hot water heating, electric lighting and was elegantly furnished. There were also stables along the north of the property.

“The recent work completed at Stouffville Junction has set a new standard for heritage presentation in our community,” Shannon Jaffer, manager of heritage, events and theatre operations for the Town of Stouffville, said.


“From its impeccably researched copper roofing to its phenomenally restored brickwork, the restored building is a beautiful cornerstone on Main Street.”

There are over 700 properties are listed in the Town’s built heritage inventory. Eligible individuals, corporations, and organizations, having made an extraordinary effort toward heritage preservation, can be nominated for future heritage awards.

Here's another interesting fact -- both award winners fall within the area where the town is looking to implement a heritage conservation district.

Ward 3 Coun. Hugo Kroon said preserving places like this in town is what he and the heritage advisory committee is trying to do. “The committee is involved in helping create the new heritage conservation districts which will further protect and celebrate heritage in our town,” he said.

Kroon who owns a heritage home himself, said that a conservation district would give homeowners peace of mind that the property next to them wouldn’t become "a giant glass and steel monstrosity."

Last month, the town moved forward with a plan to create four heritage conservation districts in the Main Street area after extensive public consultation. The four are the Church Street/Stouffville Centre North Area, O’Brien Avenue/Village Centre South, West Main Street/Stouffville Junction and Downtown Main Street.

Four separate districts will allow the town to tailor the specifics of each plan to match the character of the area.

“Heritage has taken a bad wrap because people have heard horror stories,” Ward 6 Coun. Sue Sherban said. “But it doesn’t have to be like that.”

Sherban said if the town doesn’t do anything, they are at risk of seeing monster homes in once heritage neighbourhoods.

Mayor Iain Lovatt agreed that some of the homes that have been knocked down and built do not fit the nature of these neighbourhoods.

The town will now go forward with the second phase of creating heritage conservation districts for each of the neighbourhoods identified.