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Thomas McCrae House
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Bon Echo
N 42° 22.930 W 082° 14.969
17T E 397140 N 4692965
Quick Description: McCrea House was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 2011
Location: Ontario, Canada
Date Posted: 5/3/2018 1:23:15 PM
Waymark Code: WMY74A
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member wayfrog
Views: 3

Long Description:
A private residence located along the Thames River near Chatham Ontario. This house was the once occupied by American soldiers, and was the location of the "Skirmish at McCrea House" during the War of 1812. Musket shot holes and names incribed into the brick, from that time, are still visible today (at least to those with permission to visit the property).

The following excerpts are adapted from the document:
BY-LAW NUMBER 82-2011 OF THE CORPORATION OF THE MUNICIPALITY OF CHATHAM-KENT, A By-law to designate the property located at 7407 Riverview Line, Community of Raleigh as being of historical and architectural value or interest.
PASSED the 13th day of June, 2011 (visit link)

The McCrae House was built in a simple but elegant countrified Georgian style as would be expected for an early frontier home of a loyalist settler of some means. It does not feature the heavy Rococo influenced detail of earlier, more opulent, Georgian homes of New England, nor does it have the lighter Neoclassical details of finer Federal homes of the c. 1810 period. It is, truly, a country Georgian piece of architecture that relies on symmetry and proportion for its appeal.

The McCrae House is the oldest verified structure in Chatham-Kent and, arguably, the most historically significant.

Construction of the house itself is believed to have commenced around 1810-11. It was reputedly built by a bricklayer by the name of Lenover. McCrae's share of prize money from the capture of Fort Detroit was supposedly used to complete the construction in 1812-13.
The house figured prominently in the War of 1812. In July of 1812, the house was visited by U.S. Col. Duncan McArthur and his men during their infamous raiding expedition along the Thames at which time they seized flour, whiskey, and salt. During the British and First Nations retreat up the Thames in October 1813, family tradition maintains that Tecumseh visited McCrae and dined with him in this house.
Following the Battle of the Thames, during the American occupation of the region, the house was used to quarter American soldiers and as an administrative site to administer oaths of neutrality to local inhabitants. In mid December 1813, McCrae notes in his diary that the house was filled with "about 40 men and three officers, viz., Us. Larwill and Frisk and Ensign Davis."

The events that followed are well documented in McCrae's diary as well as in official British Army records. Lt. Henry Medcalf of the Norfolk Militia, along with several men, was sent down the shore of Lake Erie to secure some cattle that were roaming near Rondeau. Once here, he learned of the Americans occupying the Mccrae house and "determined instantly on crossing the country and endeavouring to surprise them." Medcalf and his 27 men marched through snow, bitter cold, and darkness, from Lake Erie to Chatham where they found Lt. John McGregor, Roderick Drake, and six other men of the Loyal Kents. Medcalf and McGregor then formulated a plan of attack and marched their troops for miles west to the McCrae house.

On December 15, they arrived to discover that no sentries had been posted by the Americans. The house was surrounded and before dawn, a volley was shot through the windows of the house (several bullet marks in the exterior brick walls of the house can still be seen), killing one American, wounding three, taking forty prisoners, and capturing a significant quantity of arms that were distributed to the Loyal Kents. McCrae notes in his diary that the following day "Trudelle and Delisle (dug) a grave for the American soldier who died yesterday.

Key exterior elements of the McCrae House property that contribute to its value as a well preserved example of an early loyalist Georgian home include:
• Red brick construction
• Flemish bond brick pattern in main block
• Window and door placement, main block
• Window and door casements, main block
• Chimneys, main block
• Roof pitch, main block
• Brick headers over windows and doors, main block
• Window sills (presently covered), main block
• Simple soffit and eaves, main block
• Shot marks and names scratched into exterior brick walls, main block
Link to Property in The Ontario Properties Database: [Web Link]

Building or Property Type: Residential Building

County or Regional Municipality: Kent

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