Community

60 O’Brien Ave: A home with a long history in town

This brick home on O’Brien Ave. has a long history on the street and in the community.

The origins of O’Brien Ave. are thought to be a driveway that provided access to the farm and early home of Jacob Hoover on Lot 34 just south of what was the main town.

Jacob’s home was a stone house built in 1852 that burnt down in more recent times. He came from Switzerland to Pennsylvania from which place he migrated to Ontario and finally located on the Hoover farm. The current street name, Hoover Park Dr. just south of the house, remembers this farm and is on the same land.

The home of his eldest son Joseph was at 60 O’Brien Ave.

Joseph was a carpenter. He remained in this neighbourhood most of his life. Joseph purchased the lot from William Somerville for $71 on January 1, 1889. The Plan for the street was registered just a few months previous, Dec. 1888.

Joseph married Miriam George, a Claremont girl, on October 16, 1884. Miriam was the daughter of Frederic and Mary Ann George.  As a bride and groom, they began farming in Mongolia (Reesor Rd. and Elgin Mills). The George brothers had a planning mill on the corner of Second St. and William St. They also built many homes in the village. The woodwork on many houses in Stouffville and vicinity has been done by them. There is a good chance that being in the family, 60 O’Brien was one of those fine homes.

Joseph and Miriam moved into the village of Stouffville in 1889.  The 1891 census shows Joseph and his family living in a 1 ½-story brick home with seven rooms. Their daughter Cora (Hoover) McCarthy was born in this home on February 12, 1890. Joseph sold the home to his uncle Samuel Hare on October 25, 1896, for $1,500. He then moved south on the street to number 72 on the corner. He remained on the avenue where he was born and spent the rest of his life there. His brother Elias also lived on the street.

As a carpenter, he was a natural working with tools. He was employed at the planning mill. In fact, he started there way back in the days of the late Jacob Heise, who built the planning mill at the location that is now Schell Lumber. Joseph retired from regular working when he was 75 in 1935. He often did not leave his home and was not seen about town in his later years.

But his original house at 6o O’Brien remains still. The large fine home is a good example of early construction in Stouffville. The windows are one over one, tall and narrow. The brick porch was once likely a frame wooden porch, and the entrance deck was added. The unique feature of the bay to the front makes this a one-of-a-kind design. The house has had many rear yard additions and changes to enlarge the living space. The home retains, however, the original pine floors, which add warmth and character to this early home.

 

Photo: 60 O’Brien Ave: A home with a long history in town.

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