A Man in Love With a House – Pt. 2 in the Ebor House Series

The moment Ron Coffin saw Ebor House,  he was smitten.

Blog Photo - Ebor House

“It was for sale for a couple of years and a friend said I should see it. I saw it and said, ‘My God!’ I fell absolutely in love with it.”

Blog Photo - Ebor House Entrance

Never mind the weed-choked acreage surrounding the grand old house and barn.

Blog Photo - Ebor House overgrown lawn

And the nearly derelict rooms inside.

Blog Photo - Ebor House derelict Room 1

The cobwebs hanging from the ceiling and spaces crammed with old contents.

The stuffy, old-house smell.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Derelict Room 3

Ron was a man in love.

**

That was 8 years ago.

Today it’s a remarkably beautiful place.

I first saw Ebor House recently, and was so impressed, I asked Ron to share his house’s story. Days later, we sat in his refurbished kitchen, sipping our coffee as Ron reflected on his decision to restore the property.

“What possessed you — to take on such a daunting task?” I asked.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Kitchen and side door

“In life there are things you have to do. Some people have to climb Everest. I had to do this.”

Blog Photo - Ebor House Ron Smiling

Ron, a single parent, has four children and a dog. He also ran his own business. But he had “a huge interest in Canada’s architectural heritage and how it fits into its time” and he loved both the house and its location in historic Bond Head in Newcastle, Ontario.

“It’s like being in another world here. You even have to go through a series of entrances to get to this home. The first entrance is a bridge that you have to go under when you leave the highway. Then there are the gates to the property. Then there are 2 entry doors before you can come into the house.”

Blog Photo - Ebor House Gates

Ron had a vision of the house at its best.

He decided to do some of the restoration work by himself.

“I made the common mistake of plastering the walls and painting, then realized the roof was leaking”, he said. “The house also needed all new plumbing, heating and wiring. So I had to rip out some of that work and start again.”

Luckily, the seller still had the architectural drawings from 1867,  the year Canada became a nation. (Construction started in 1868 and Ebor House was completed in 18 months.)  Those drawings convinced Ron that he was on the right track.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Dining Room full

Some chandeliers and furniture  – such as this Jacques & Hay sideboard on the right – were in the house in 1869. Ron bought other furnishings – including lighting, paintings, mirrors, and other furniture — after meticulous research.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Green Room with portait and walls and furniture

Sometimes he felt like a detective trying to solve a mystery.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Living Room

The house and grounds provided clues.

The pantry doors were found in the barn. Old pennies were found under the lawn.  The pennies, found together,  likely fell from someone’s pocket during a picnic, Ron thinks.

Blog Photo - Ebor House back lawn

Blog Photo - Ebor House Canadian penny 1858

The more Ron learned, the better he understood how people lived in the late 1800’s and early 20th century.

Blog Photo - Ebor House entrance inside

“One thing I learned was how the double front doors were used. On days when the family was receiving guests, they’d open the outer door, while the inside door was closed. That would signal that visitors were welcome.”

He also became deeply interested in the Farncombs, who built the house and lived here for more than 130 years. Theirs was a remarkable story of great success and happiness, as well as heartbreaking tragedy.

**Watch for Part 3: The Farncombs.

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37 Comments

Filed under A Good Home, Beautiful Neighborhoods, Bond Head, Canada, Canadian life, Canadians, Country Living, Country roads, Following your dreams, Heritage Homes, historic neighborhoods, Home, Home Decor, Homes, Life in canada, Lifestyle, neighborhoods, Restoration, Restoring old houses

37 responses to “A Man in Love With a House – Pt. 2 in the Ebor House Series

  1. Ooh, a cliff-hanger! I can’t wait! Such a fabulous house with an interesting history.

    • Isn’t it, though? For me, it’s like following a piece of string, and making great discoveries along the way. to think this all happened by accident. (And I can hear blogger-friends Eric, Levi – and even Ron himself — saying “It wasn’t an accident, Cynthia!”,

      • I often think we are ‘meant’ to be somewhere/do something because quite often these things change our lives, or at least our minds. If we are receptive to these new influences or scenes etc our world can expand and we can grow.

      • Interesting that you say that, Clare. For years after the accident, I turned off those receptors. I was too afraid to risk even venturing outside of the house for long stretches. And so a thing that had helped to define my life and character – being open to others, willing to take a risk, venture off the beaten path – got shut down almost completely.

        Luckily, God sent people here to me in our old farmhouse, and I was forced to take an interest in strangers.

  2. A wonderful story about a beautiful house. How lucky that someone came along with the vision and dedication to return the house to its former glory.

  3. Beautiful house and restoration, and bringing life back to this house seems far more important than conquering Everest. Poor Everest; it’s in need of restoration and love.

    • What a novel response to this story, Gallivanta. I love your comment and I know Ron will love the compliment.

      • Ah, Cynthia, that is my brain side-tracking again. It just struck me that when people say they want to climb Everest, it is usually about ‘conquering’ and ‘mastering’, and the end result is not particularly happy for Everest. With Ron, he is listening to an old house and its environment, bringing it back to life, and working with it. His challenge, his interest, his dream, involve co-operation and care. I like that.

      • Me too. But you say it so well!!!

        Part 3 is about the remarkable family who built the house and lived there for more than a century.

        THANK YOU.

  4. What a beautiful house, and what an act of love restoring it. Please let Ron know how much we enjoyed his sharing.

  5. That is a lovely restoration job! One of the best I’ve seen.
    Remarkable that some of the interior furnishings were still intact as well.

  6. Not my taste in homes, but I admire his passion and dedication.

  7. A stately home beautifully restored with passion! The house has character and it takes a person like Ron to see the potential when he first saw it. Interesting post on Ebor House, Thank you, Cynthia.

  8. Oh I’d love that house too!!! I’m so glad he restored it. A place like that is well worth preserving! Hugs, N 🙂

  9. That really is a beautiful house. Finding furniture that was actually in it must have been a real stroke of luck.

  10. I LOVE this house! Have you ever considered submitting your stories like these to a magazine? I’m just sayin’…

    • How kind of you, Rose.
      A whole separate set of my stories is published in Arabella Art and Architecture Magazine.
      I have so loved this story that I haven’t yet come up for air to figure out what else I may do with it. I’m learning so much.

  11. Fascinating!!! What a beautiful job he has done and what a great post!!

  12. Wow. I’m in love too. I adore old houses and I am so glad there are people like Ron to buy and restore them. So many are torn down to make way for new ones. Pity. What an excellent storyteller you are, Cynthia. 🙂

  13. I am totally in love with your blog–the story-telling style just drags one in 🙂 I am going to have to sit a spell with you and a good cup of coffee…and get caught up!

  14. What a beautiful transformation!

  15. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

    This was lovely! That must have been many hard hours of work. 🙂

  16. Pingback: Lost Without a Clue – Pt. 1 in a Series | Cynthia Reyes

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