Friday, August 31, 2012

A reverence for history a story mostly in pictures

This Georgian style addition to a 1920s country-style cottage is the work and devotion of one man - Barry Joseph More of Owen Sound. This three story addition has 12- foot ceilings, ornamental mouldings and is surrounded by classic gardens. It is not built from cement block, but lovingly constructed of stone, selected carefully from barn foundations, and then completed on the inside as a Georgian manor house would be.

Called Morland Place, it is really a tribute to his mother, designed to show off her collections of furnishings, china, figurines, tea cups, old books, historical photographs of family. " She loved fine things," claims More.

All three floors are filled with memorabilia and huge collections of immense variety.

On each side of this centre hall-planned addition on the first two levels are parlours with fireplaces and intricate mantlepieces. At the south end of each  parlour or drawing room, is often a small sun room also filled with items of historical interest.
Above - one of the parlours with the book collection. More constructed all of this - the mouldings, the fireplaces, the alcove, the book case. What he didn't know how to do, he learned. He eventually became a contractor building homes in Owen Sound, one of his many occupations over the years.
The small sun room off the end of one of the parlours is easily seen in the photo above. This room with the pink walls was apparently one of Mrs. More's favourites.

Among the many items in what is now museum and showplace are two square antique grand pianos and an organ. Tables, chairs, settees, oriental rugs, all manner of items fill the rooms.
One of the small sun rooms seen in this photo above.

The stairway leading to the second floor is in the photo to the right. Behind the door on the landing is another sun room. The bannister does not have any newel posts but is one continuous piece, created by Mr. More along with the ballisters which he also turned on his lathe.

But it isn't only house construction that interests this man. He continues to work on the property and while he was building the house and his parents were alive - it was also a working farm.

This he has turned into immense European style gardens with a large cedar maze and cement statuary which he himself pours, stone pathways throughout the gardens, green houses and a bedding garden where he grows the plants for the gardens. All the work of his own hands.

Looking north, this stone pathway leads to a wide path lined by a high cedar hedge to the maze. Along the way are various cement benches and walls, statuary of crouched lions, figures that hold pots of flowers and grasses, ivies and other plants.
The lilies are over explains More when suggesting I might want to explore the property, and the gardens aren't as beautiful as normal because of the heat he adds. But this garden alone, its construction and the maintenance required take my breath away.
Above is the octagonal perennial garden, with cedar arches, arches created with iron and woven with ivies, grape vines, or other trailing vines. You can tell this has been a labour of love over many years.
This hillside garden as More calls it shows the original cottage in the background. This particular garden stretches from the front edges of the property to hedges and a woodland that have been created beyond the cedar hedge on the right hand side of this photograph.
This garage is the first structure that More built. His father helped him. It was the start of fulfilling a dream which continues to this day - both the dream and the work involved.

There is so much additional information and are so many photographs that this blog would become a book if I continue. If you are intrigued, More himself has written a book "A thing of Beauty: The story of Morland Place." Filled with photographs of his family, of the works in progress, of the various gardens, it has been published by Ginger Press in Owen Sound www.gingerpress.com

The exploration of Morland Place took me over an hour, and that was merely glancing at everything, not spending the hours that one possibly could. More has opened his home and the gardens to the public, donated 20 acres of land to the Grey Roots Museum just outside Owen Sound and done so much in the community to foster his enduring passion - retaining the history of Owen Sound and the surrounding area.

What a fascinating story, not only about the place, but about the man behind it all. You can bet there's lots left to learn. So what dream will you be following this labour day weekend?

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