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The City of Burlington has taken the first step toward historic designation of the home at 977 Unsworth Avenue in Aldershot.

During a Committee meeting this week, Council directed staff to hire a heritage consultant to evaluate the property.

Known as the George Unsworth House, the home was built in 1932 in the NeoTudor Style. It was the home of George Unsworth who ran a 13-acre farm and greenhouse operation, well known to Aldershot residents. The home is currently on the City’s Heritage Register, but is not formally designated.

Coincidental with the Committee’s initiative this week, the Ontario Land Tribunal ruled on Monday that the new owner of the property may sever 977 into three lots, keeping the historic home on the centre lot.

All this follows two controversial Committee of Adjustment (CofA) hearings last year. The property owner’s severance application included expert reports suggesting the home should be formally designated. After a raucous debate, spread over two meetings, the CofA demanded that historic designation be a condition of the severance. In a four-to-one vote they rejected the severances despite being told repeatedly that CofA had no jurisdiction over historic designations and could not make it a condition of the severances. Only City Council can formally designate. The property owner seemed ambivalent about the designation, but went on the appeal the denial of the severances.

Diagram shows planned severance on each side of the Unsworth house

According to existing heritage studies the house is a two-storey Arts & Crafts style building.

“Constructed with high quality materials including cut and carved stone, cast stone, textured stucco, slate and copper. Notable features include the high hipped roof with multi-coloured slate tiles, the front entrance with a paneled wood door and decorative cast stone surround, the 2-storey octagonal bay with a crenellated parapet, and the open porch on the north side of the house that has a roof that is integrated into the roofline of the house and supported by stone pillars.”

At this week’s meeting local Councillor Kelvin Galbraith commented on the importance of the building to the Unsworth neighbourhood. “It’s a very famous street in Aldershot. There were huge fields of greenhouses behind it. This is where the owners lived and operated that greenhouse and farm. It’s a beautiful house that has heritage qualities and the owner is in support of the designation and we would like to move this forward”.

By Rick Craven

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