Tracking the History of my home


Old 08-20-12, 09:31 AM
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Tracking the History of my home

With a whole lot of digging, I'm starting to find some photos and history about my house.

As I have mentioned in a few posts, I bought a former convent back in December. Since moving in, I have struggled to find any photographical or documented info about it being a convent, even though everyone in town knew it as the convent, and most of the older locals have been in it back when the nuns owned it. The Convent was built in 1937 (as per the previous owners).

I got a break last night when we got home to find an envelop in the door. The mother of my wife's friend had a book with photos of the neghboring church and "Le Convent St-Raphael"... SCORE!!

I had been using the address, the Cathlic chruch's name (ST. David) as search terms. Apparently the convent was a different name, although part of the same property until the early 1970's.

I'm still looking for information, and eventually I'll walk over and talk to the prist next door to see what records he might have.

Anyway, that is the boring stuff, on to the photos....

Post card with the date 1938 written on the back. It is of the church next door. Unfortunately from this angle, you can't see my house which would be behind the church (leftish of the photo)
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This is the earliest photo I have to date. The photo was taken looking South West (church barely visable on the right).
The house was (still is under the siding) sided with ashphalt shingles. The porch is exactly as it is today except the door closest to the front and the two windows closest to the front are no longer there. The door between the two windows on the porch is still there and used today.
The chimney is gone as is the downspout leading to the porch roof.
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This next picture I believe was taken a couple years after it was sold by the sisters and became privately owned. As per the info from my wife's friend's mom, it was just after the renos where completed. The picture is dated 1979 and other then the landscape, it appears to have been unchanged until a couple years ago.
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The next two pictures are from Google Street View. Google had gone through the area 3-5 years ago. Notice how not a lot had changed other then the landscape.
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This picture was taken just before we purchased it. Only thing that changed between the picture and when we saw it was the new shingles.
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And finally, this is how it looks today
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Tracking info has been touch, but with the new information I have, might be a bit easier now. One setback I am having is my french is not too good.
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Old 08-20-12, 12:59 PM
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I could poke around for you. I find stuff like this interesting.

Usually you start with the church then take it from there. Building around the churches were often rectory's I believe.

Is this the church????? Built 1890?

History of St. Raphael's Parish, Blackville, N.B.
Old 08-20-12, 02:03 PM
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The Church is known as St. David in NoelVille Ontario (ON). I don't have a build date, but from one photo I have seen, I think it was after 1928.

Here is the Google Street View of the house NoŽlville, ON - Google Maps
The Church is to the right (West).
Old 08-20-12, 02:33 PM
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You are definitely right in asking the priest of the church next door for help as he should have records of the property and maybe even blueprints that he would be willing to give to you since you are now the rightful owner. If the pastor of the church doesn't have the records then your next step would be to contact the archdiocese or diocese in that area which the pastor can do on your behalf. Depending on why you want the information you could even see who owned the property before the church by going perhaps to the department of assessors office or the equivalent and asking to see the land record. Always interesting what you find out about old properties.
Old 08-20-12, 02:42 PM
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I have the survey records which indicates it was parted and sold from the church in the early 70's.
Based on early records that I have found about Noelville itself, the church would have more then likely made land claims back when the town first was established.

I plan to talk with the pastor regarding the history of the house. Unfortunately with my schedule and major language barrier (he's really french, my french is insultingly bad), I have yet to go to the most obvious starting point. I'll more then likely bring a friend with me who's first language is french. This could help.

I'm hoping with learning (last night) that the convent had a different name, that google and I may get along good on some information searching. When I find a site that hints of info, online translators work great.
Old 08-20-12, 03:19 PM
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I am not sure but I think I found the church that is closest to you. I did that by using a website called Mass Times and using that a Catholic can look up churches and see when the mass is going on and pictures of the church which are usually available. Here is your churches website Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie - Bienvenue ŗ la paroisse St-Jean-Baptiste de Verner. Here is the website for mass times if anyone is interested Mass Times > Home I remembered seeing that in my church bulletin at one time as the church doesn't want us to miss mass while we are traveling. I rarely travel but that same link can be handy for checking out other things such as where a priest has been moved as you can then see what his new church looks like. There was no English translation on that website but there was for the diocese of which you can find a link on the left hand side of the churches website. Might be an English translation for that church somewhere else on the diocese page hard to say for sure. Good luck in your research this is fascinating I hope you post back with some of your results.
Old 08-20-12, 03:33 PM
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That looks like the Church, but isn't it. The church next door is known as St. David. It is part of that Docese I believe and Verner is not all that far from here.

Here is the google street view of the church next door.
noelville ontario - Google Maps

My house is directly behind it. If you follow the street that runs along the left side of this view, you will see my house as it looked a couple years ago.
Old 08-26-12, 10:15 PM
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This is really interesting. Thanks for sharing. I love old homes and the history that goes behind them. It must have been quite a job doing up the old place?
Old 08-27-12, 02:18 AM
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He is not done with it yet are you Northern Mike. How has the progress been in finding out more about your house Mike? I am really curious and really love old homes too I guess one of the reasons I like looking at the webcams for This Old House and seeing good transformations occur.
Old 08-27-12, 04:14 AM
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I'm still looking for more information about the house.
With talking to a few locals, I know that the one room where my boy's toy room is, was where the piano was located when it was a convent. If you look at the photos, it would be the two front windows (1941 photo) on the main level right hand side. I believe there was a window in that room facing west. I have yet to find any photos of the interior from way back when. Those will be gold to me as there has been some modifications to the interior that I have yet to figure out.
Old 08-27-12, 06:11 AM
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I don't think I mentioned this previously, so I thought I would cover what the house was used for (from my knowledge so far).

From what I know, the house was a convent from 1937 through to the early 1970's (think 1972 when the property was surveyed, and separated from the church). The property with the house is 3 lots total.

There is a bit of a gap from the 1970's as to who owned it and what it was used for.

The house was later owned and run as a bed and breakfast by two different owners. I'm not sure if the name changed, but it can still be found online listed as "FRENCH RIVER HOMESTEAD BED & BREAKFAST".

From the B&B, it was purchased around 2007 (will need to confirm our paperwork at home) by a local family. They used part of the home as their living space, and the other part was used to house a massage therapy company (Therapeutic Touch Massage Therapy).

Fourth Quarter of 2011, it was sold and purchased by my wife and I.

On a creepy front.... I have yet to find any information to confirm, but from what I have been told, there has been 1, possibly 2 (violent) deaths in the house, sometime between the time frame of 1972 and 2007. Iím hoping to locate news paper clippings regarding these once I can confirm more info.
Old 08-27-12, 07:12 AM
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I dug up a few pictures that was from when the house was listed for sale (and when we bought it). These are the earliest pictures I have of the interior which was when it was a massage therapy and home. Not much has changed (yet) other then the decor (we have 2 young kids, and not the budget they had).

The first two pictures are of the stairs leading from the first to second floor. I believe most of it is original other than the one upright support which is the size of a modern 4x4 (3.75" x 3.75" I believe). When checking the stairs from the passage way in the kids toy room, the original square shaped nails are visible from the underside of the stairs.
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This next picture is of the waiting area (of the then business). It is now part of our living room. The wall behind the mirror and electric fire place is where there use to be 2 windows (seen in the 1941 photo).
The fireplace was not mounted and was taken by the previous owners.
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This next photo is of the same living room. The fireplace mantle can be seen in the bottom left corner.
The doors in the center are the only major change the previous owners made other then the shoddy window install. The craftsmanship of this door install was as bad or worse than the windows.
In the photo, you can partly see the outline of the original door. The doors use to be huge openings with angled cornering. I'll probably be removing these doors and returning the wall to its original state. The doors where installed to separate the family's living area from the client waiting room.
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This is the main floor hallway. From what I can tell, it did not originally end at the closet. I suspect that it continued straight through to the back of the house in a similar manner to the second floor. If I had to guess, this was a more recent upgrade by one of the B&B owners.
All doors inside the house are like these seen here (except those ugly French doors) and require a skeleton key to lock them. I believe the locks were made by Yale.
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The next two photos are of the kitchen. I am not sure if the cupboards are original. If I had to guess, I would say they were upgraded before the 1970's.
The door to the pantry (beside the fridge) and the pocket door seen in the first picture had to be from the B&B days. The ceiling is also lowered by about 2' from the original height. The lumber and screws used for the false ceiling lead me to believe this was done recently, but before the owners I purchased the house from.
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This last picture is of the dining room. It had been used as a living room by the previous owner as their living room had been consumed by the business.
The tiling was reasonably new (last 10yrs maybe) and was a poorly done DIY job. This section of floor was also reinforced below, going from 24" C to C, to 12" C to C.
The ceiling was lowered ~3ft in this area, where the rest of the main floor was only dropped 2ft.
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Old 08-27-12, 01:46 PM
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I kind of doubt those are original cabinets too and I kind of think maybe those ceiling tiles may be up there in the living room to perhaps cover up an ornate plaster ceiling. Probably some damage occurred to the ceiling or they just got tired of having to have to paint it all of the time. As to deaths that occurred at your house and possibly murders that doesn't surprise me either especially an old house like that although I wouldn't like that kind of history either. If Canadian laws are anything like they are in some states here and the District Of Columbia then it is no surprise if you didn't hear about it from your real estate agent as in some areas here it is illegal for them to disclose that a murder or other violent death occurred in a house they want to sell. Punishments vary to the real estate agent from jail time to losing their license to fines or all of the above. If you have ghosts in some states it is also illegal to tell a prospective buyer that a house is haunted. Not sure if I myself believe in ghosts but I don't exactly not believe either, kind of on the fence about it. Thanks for the update. I really like your house.
Old 08-27-12, 05:41 PM
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Do you mean to see it is illegal to not tell people about murders/ghosts?
Old 08-27-12, 06:42 PM
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No wonder no one was told about the 3 ghosts in my house
Old 08-27-12, 11:11 PM
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That is right drooplug it is illegal to talk about murders that occurred or ghosts. I think the reasoning behind it is they don't want houses to sit empty just because someone died. Justin I wouldn't worry too much about ghosts they don't eat anything but can be annoying at times just hope you have friendly ghosts like a certain cartoon
Of course every state is different and some states I just found out require the disclosure of ghosts. Here is a link I think might interest people on the subject of ghosts The Law & Disclosure | Haunted Real Estate Blog . I do remember one case where a woman had died of natural causes in the District Of Columbia several years ago now and the real estate agent who had a lock smith come to the house after the house was released for sale found her dead body in her bedroom. Afterwards the reporter said interestingly enough the real estate agent is prohibited by law in disclosing the death. The reporter had found out about the woman's death from the police and neighbors. So it depends on the area.
Old 08-28-12, 04:11 AM
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Funny how this thread changed directions... Definately an interesting topic though.

I haven't bothered confirming that aspect of the house. There are so many different directions to search and research that it's on the list, but low. I also only heard about it the one time, so I'm not 100% sure it's valid.
From what I was told, the one incident didn't start at the house, but it ended there. It had started down the road at a lumber mill (do not know if it's the existing mill there now, or one of the other ones).
Although out local news coverage is not that great, this would have big news, so finding info shouldn't be too hard if it did happen.

As for the realtor disclosing the information... This house was bought through a 'for sale by owner' company. The owners although growing up in the area and both having taken piano lessons with the nuns, knew very little about the house.
Old 08-28-12, 05:39 AM
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In regards to the kitchen cabinets, I would have figured them to be from the 50's or 60's (based on the same type of materials and construction as my old house), but knowing that the house has seen major renovations in the 70's, I think they where done then.

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