I have lived in Belleville’s Old East Hill neighbourhood for a combined 23 years. I have lived in three houses, each one on the same street. I left for 13 years and moved to different major cities and small villages, within Canada and abroad, but I have always loved my city. I always knew that it is the place I would come back to, to make my home again.
One thing that I fell in love with early on was the beautiful architecture and the history of this neighbourhood.
I love walking the streets of old East Hill and wondering what it would have been like to walk here when the first couple dozen houses were being built. Or what it would have been like in this neighbourhood with just the first 100 houses, 500 houses, and so on.
This neighbourhood was first known as Taylor Hill after John Taylor who purchased 100 acres of land here. The names of his family members made up some of the first street names — John, George, William and Ann.
A few properties on my long list of favourites are: the Hatt sisters’ home on Charles, Bell-Riggs on Queen, Bellevue Terrace on Patterson and Crestview on Pine.
Each of these buildings are quite different from each other and are great examples of the beautiful architecture here.
Hatt Sisters’ Home
The Hatt sisters’ home on Charles is a Queen Anne, storey-and-a-half home built in 1909 for two sisters, Letitia and Mary Hatt. One of the sisters was engaged to marry a young German of nobility, but when the Hatt family lost heavily in the stock market the wedding was called off and she was sent back to Belleville.
When I was growing up I always dreamed about one day living in this house. I thought it was perfect. I loved the expansive and detailed front porch and the beautiful wrought iron cresting. It seemed like a very happy and loved home that was so well taken care of. Now, you can see this home still wonderfully loved and always decorated, celebrating so many occasions.
The “Bell-Riggs” house on Queen Street is one of the oldest homes in the neighbourhood, built in 1855 for John Bell who worked for the Grand Trunk Railway. It has an impressive tower in the centre of the home and a beautifully decorative wraparound porch to the west. Due to the grand size of the house, it was converted into 3 large apartments. Fortunately, the home’s beauty and charm has been well maintained, partly due to the historic designation in 1985.
Bellevue Terrace, which also has a historic designation, was built in 1876 during an economic recession. James A. Davis was the builder for the first owner Isaac B. Graham and his brother. The terrace consisted of six separate dwellings, but was converted to 18 apartments during the beginning of the Great Depression (1929).
At the time of the conversion the ground was dug away from the building allowing the basement to have more natural light. This extended the front stairs a fair amount, which is a great feature that adds much charm, in my opinion. Other than the work done in 1929, the exterior of the building has undergone minimal change since 1876.
This impressive Queen Anne-style brick home on Pine Street was built in 1889 by Charles F. Smith. It’s a two-and-a-half story home with unique ornamental brackets on top of a tower-like bay window. It is set back from the street and, for as long as I can remember, has been tucked away behind shrubs and large trees.
This beautiful home has so many great details and I always thought it would be so nice if its beauty was more visible and shared with everyone. My favourite feature has always been the delightful second-story built-in balcony with circular openings. It looks like the perfect spot to enjoy a morning coffee and watch the world go by.