Woodruff Home In St. Davids
Historic House Being Dismantled, Will Be Shipped To Caledon Hills
ST. DAVIDS — One of the Niagara Peninsula's oldest homes is being carefully taken apart like a giant jig-saw puzzle for later reconstruction in the Caledon Hills, 35 miles north of Toronto.
The two-storey, six-bedroom, frame house on Highway 8 known locally as the Woodruff home — is being taken apart by its present owner, Douglas Doerr, a Toronto management consultant. The house was built about 1802.
Since September, Mr. Doerr, his wife and helpers, including a Norwegian architect, have been stripping the old landmark, painstakingly numbering each piece of lumber and bundling it up.
The lumber and a huge fireplace completely intact will be shipped to a wooded setting on float trucks.
As each room is dismantled the architect, Finn Friis sketches every room, nook and cranny. Eventually Mr. Friis, who worked with another Norwegian architect in restoring Fort York, will have a perfect blueprint of the house so anyone could reassemble the house to its original state.
Both Mr. Friis and, Mr. Doerr say the house is in excellent condition, structurally. Only two or three of some 100 beams in the house will have to be replaced.
The superb condition of the house can be attributed to two previous owners: Major Wilfred Woodruff, who lives a stone's throw from the house, and Judge R. J. Cudney of London, Ont.
About three years ago, Major Woodruff sold the house to Judge Cudney on the understanding the house would be restored. Judge Cudney, an ardent preserver of Canadiana, kept the agreement. He is credited for not letting the house be gripped of its value.
Some of the things antique buffs have been wanting to get their hands on are the valuable Adams mantels which frame each of the five fireplaces in the home.
Judge Cudney later sold the; house to Mr. Doerr who, because of his background, has a sense of history and belief that a person should be responsible for preserving his country's heritage.
Mr. Doerr's Pennsylvania Dutch family was the second family to settle in Waterloo County.
Original builder of the house was William Woodruff. He was the fifth child of Ezekel and Sarah (Hall) Woodruff, who came here in 1795. William, who was born in 1793, in Middletown, Connecticut, was only two years old when he came here with his parents. He saw service in almost every battle on the Niagara frontier as a private in the Lincoln Militia during the War of 1812.
For his war services, he received a land grant of 200 acres and after the war, he went into partnership with his brother Richard, in St. David's as a general merchant and miller. The two brothers soon became the village's leading merchants and both embarked upon careers in public life.
William became an ardent supporter of the Reform Party and was elected as the member from first and second ridings of Lincoln in the Upper Canada Assembly in 1829 and 1830.
In August of 1824, he was appointed a Lieutenant in the militia and still later, a director in the original Welland Canal Company.
William was later appointed Magistrate at St. Davids and became well-known throughout the peninsula.
Like his brother Richard, he married one of the Clement sisters, and raised seven children in the house. William died in June, 1860 at the age of 67, but his wife Margaret lived on in the house for another 20 years. She died in 1882.
Both she and her husband are buried in Victoria Lawn Cemetery in St. Catharines.