Sunday, November 17, 2013

Falcon Wood Estate - John A. recovered here Summer 1870

     Recently there was article in the Guardian newspaper telling about the rezoning of part of the Falcon Wood Estate for a new Hospice Facility.   The estate is situated on the Hillsborough River with south exposure.
     This former Estate is better known to Islanders as the site of the Provincial Hospital for the mentally ill.  Over the years, in a few different buildings, it's been known called Falconwood Asylum, Falconwood Hospital, Riverside Hospital and today the 1957 building called Hillsborough Hospital.  
     In 1842 John Grubb Esq., a native of England, merchant and member of the Legislative Assembly, bought the large property in Charlottetown Royalty and built an impressive brick house which he called Falcon Wood.  At the time Mr. Grubb was living in an impressive home at Holland Grove in Charlottetown. 
     See City of Charlottetown's Historic Places listing:
Falcon Wood House
     On March 26, 1855 an advertisement in the Daily Examiner describes the Estate as a grand mansion with a large estate.  The house was described as, "one of the most substantial brick buildings on the Island and contained a dining room, drawing room, parlour, library, spacious hall and staircase, servant's room, laundry, storeroom and kitchen on the first floor.  The second floor included eight bedrooms and a dressing room.  The house also featured a large cellar and a hot air stove in the "sunk story".  The grounds included flower and kitchen gardens, 12 acres of land, some of which was cultivated, and "fine old trees".  Those interested were to apply at the house."
     Mr. Grubb died in 1850 and his Will instructed  their Holland Grove house be sold and Falcon Wood be finished, which it was by the mid 1850s.  It is not known if the family ever lived in the house as it was leased to many tenants including the Prime Minster of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald and his family who came to Falcon Wood in the summer of 1870 for John A. to recover from gallstone attacks.  
     In 1871 the Provincial Government leased Falcon Wood House as a mental health facility - eventually the mansion would be considered unsuitable and in 1879 the government purchased the property from the Grubbs and built a new institution (see below).
     See also the article, "Mrs. Haviland's Plants", which appeared in The Island Magazine by Elinor Vass.  Mrs. Haviland was Ann Elizabeth Grubb.
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     Falcon Wood Estate reminds me of Fairholm House built in 1838-1839 at 230 Prince Street in Charlottetown for Hon. Thomas Haviland.  This home belonged to three of Charlottetown's prominent families - the Havilands (who's son, Thomas Heath Haviland, was a Father of Confederation), the Youngs and the Rogers.   
     The style of Falcon Wood was similar to Fairholm in the following features: constructed 3-4 years apart; built entirely of brick, low-pitched hip roof, many tall brick chimneys,  round bay with three windows on each level, and false brick-up windows to balance the facade.
     Fairholm has survived 175 years on the corner of Prince and Fitzroy Streets.  In 1999 the house was purchased by MacDonald's & MacPherson - following restorations it was opened as a heritage inn called Fairholm National Historic Inn.  Below are photos from their website (Falcon Wood might have been finished in a similar style):  Also see the City of Charlottetown's Historic Places listing:
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     In 1879, Falcon Wood Estate, was the site of the Island Government's new state-of-the art facility called Falconwood Asylum.  The 5-storey Second Empire style building was sprawling and imposing.  In the winter of 1931 the facility was serverly damaged by fire.  Falconwood Hospital was rebuilt in 1933 in a less grand style.  For more information see the City of Charlottetown's Historic Places listing:  
Below: Engraving of the former Falconwood Insane Asylum.
Canadian Illustrated News, Vol. 17, No. 12, 180 (23 March 1878)


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