The history of the Woodlawn

April 15, 2018

This article originally appeared in the Cobourg Daily Star on Wednesday, December 30, 1987. It was written by Peggy Wright in the winter before the inn opened for business. It is reprinted here in its entirety. 


Woodlawn: 152 years of history


By Peggy Wright


Woodlawn was built in 1835 by George Perry, a son of Ebenezer Perry, one of the first United Loyalists who came to Cobourg in 1815 after serving in the war of 1812.


The history of the house is closely rivaled by the history of the Perry family.


Ebenezer Perry was an active industrialist and entrepreneur. He served as the first president of the board of police and was instrumental in the formation of both the Cobourg Harbour and the Cobourg-Peterborough Railway. He was also founding member of the Victoria College Board of Directors.


Pratt’s Pond was originally Perry’s Pond connected to his lumber and transportation interests.


Perry’s Common, consisting of 25 acres, is now Victoria Park having been purchased by the town in 1898.


Ebenezer had 11 surviving children and five wives, only one of whom, Anne Van Norman bore his offspring.


Two of his son George’s children were born deaf and dumb. One of them, Annie, lived on Division Street until she was 102 years old.


The house itself was originally a single-storey Regency style cottage, rather a grand one of its kind.


It has a low hip roof, extending eaves, sweeping galleries, tall chimneys and contrasting window sizes.


Local historian Rob Mikel likens Woodlawn to another house further south at 297 Division St. because of the similar doorways but has been unable to determine the name of the builder in either case.


The Greek revival wings were added in the 1850’s. The north wing burned to the ground sometime in the late 1800’s and is easy to find on the bird’s-eye map of Cobourg from 1874.


There is a story that one of Ebenezer’s wives died in that fire, but it is difficult to prove, and the dates are conflicting.


Also, there is a charming signature etched in one of the front window panes by a son, Charles, who was experimenting with a diamond ring. The writing is still clearly visible.


The house passed from the Perry’s during the late 1860’s when they were forced to sell off some of their assets.


It was purchased by William Irvine Stanton, who married Georgina Daintry of The Poplars.

They probably added the second storey and perhaps the front porch with its classical wooden columns. These columns and the decorated frieze on the porch roof trim date much later than the original structure.


The house was owned by a Methodist minister named Peterson around the turn of the century. It then became Dr. Lloyd’s surgery for a number of years. The name of Woodlawn was given to the house around this time.


The current owners recently found a number of medicine bottles under the front porch, bearing the names of physicians who practised in the house.


Woodlawn reverted to a residence after Dr. Lloyd sold it and has remained so to this day, with the notable exception of the south wing which until 3 years ago housed and antique business. The house was renamed The Talisman at this time.


The house, now called the Woodlawn Terrace Inn, is currently undergoing major changes at the hands of its present owners, the Della-Casas.


More than 1.5 million is to be spent adding 14 bedrooms. The completed project will operate as a bed and breakfast establishment, with a restaurant in the main section due to open in the Spring of 1988.


Gerda Della-Casa says she is trying to preserve as much of the original flavour as possible, rebuilding the north wing as it once was, and using some of the bricks from the old coach house which had to be torn down for safety reasons.


All of the interior doors and mouldings for the addition are being made to exactly copy the originals, and she hopes to be able to replicate the original wallpaper and paint colours.


The main house will contain a large dining room on the first floor, much as it would have been in the mid-1800’s.


During the renovations, builders have found the original staircase to the basement underneath the existing kitchen sink. Della-Casa said she and her husband had wondered why there was no internal staircase to the basement.


The interior of the house remains quite untouched and well-preserved, the only exception being the south wing where renovations were carried out for an apartment about five years ago. The original mouldings and mantelpiece were removed, and carpet glued to the pine floors.


The Woodlawn Terrace Inn is a beautiful example of a solid and well-built structure, deserving the restoration and additions which will hopefully enhance one of Cobourg’s classic buildings.

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