The Tower of Port Hope

The doors are ordinary and rather battered, but the building they are attached to is definitely not.

Port Hope8All along the St Lawrence River and the Great Lakes, there are numerous communities with a rich history from the 1800s.  The town of Port Hope east of Toronto is one of those.

I discovered this old water tower in Port Hope by accident, while looking for an award-winning bakery known for its Canadian specialty – butter tarts.

It turns out that finding the building was the easy part. Trying to unearth the history of it was an entirely different matter.

Port Hope6

When I searched for “Tower of Port Hope“, I got links to a retirement residence located next door.

Further poking around the interwebs, I found “Greenwood Tower“, but it only provided information about the motel located on the property and not the water tower itself.

Finally I stumbled across a reference to the “Belgrave Water Tower” and found an article about the history of this wonderful 1877 building.

Port Hope5

Although in disrepair, the building is still stunning with its fan design of wrought iron in the lower windows,

… the ornate railings along the roof of the extension of the first floor,

… the widow’s walk and the balustrades around the windows on the third level

… and let’s not forgot those circular spoke windows on the top level.

Port Hope9-14

Although I couldn’t see inside the tower, it is said to have a wooden circular staircase that winds up to the 4th level, and deep below the tower is a brick-walled well that is 10 feet across and drops down about 75 feet (3 metres and 23 metres respectively).

It was built on a 30-acre estate known as Belgrave, and the tower provided water to the house and surrounding gardens.  I’m obviously talking about a local businessman with serious wealth.

Port Hope7

It may look derelict and abandoned, but a family of feral cats currently call the tower home. Pretty fancy digs whether you’re a cat or not.

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.  Check it out and discover a world of doors.

About Joanne Sisco

Retired but not idle. Life is an adventure - I plan to continue to embrace it.
This entry was posted in history, photography, Things I Like, Thursday Doors, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

104 Responses to The Tower of Port Hope

  1. prior.. says:

    Hi J, so cats occupy the space…
    and as I looked at these beautiful photos – with worn wood doors – it reminded me of the lasting beauty of brick.

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      I grew up in the north where we only had wood frame homes, so anything brick to me is really special. I see something like this – old, historic, BRICK, … it pushes all the right buttons 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • prior.. says:

        Oh that is cool and I can relate – I love brick homes – but also various bricks around our town (in the state of Virginia) we even have a few brick streets – maybe more cobblestone? And years ago I was more enamored with patios that had a dozen different kinds of bricks – but not to loved anymore – still like them – but the brick is everywhere and so after a while – well u know – 😉

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  2. This is a marvelous choice, Joanne! I love all the iron details. Such an unusual and lovely tower. Hugs.

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  3. LB says:

    I love the previous comment! 🙂
    It is all about exploring and keeping your eyes open to the world around us.
    What a neat find, Joanne!

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  4. jesh stg says:

    Love this tower with all the specific details! The door fits in there nicely – on second look: not many towers have this many balconies:) Sorry, a little later but am quite distracted of re-learning the Apple system after 20+ years:)

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  5. Such a fabulous building. When I was a kid, I wanted to live on top of a tower. This one would have done nicely.

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  6. Sue Slaght says:

    Good detective work Joanne! By some interesting coincidence we are working on a post about a restored water tower in Saskatchewan that looks like a lighthouse. Seems we remain eerily connected. 🙂

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  7. RuthsArc says:

    Such a lovely building. Thanks for sharing, Joanne.

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  8. dennyho says:

    This IS a great find…but did you see any of those feline residents? And a butter tart…this sounds like double trouble but am willing to try anything!

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  9. Susanne says:

    A long time ago we stayed at a BnB in Port Hope which is a fabulous, historic Ontario town to explore. But dang. Butter tarts you say? Did you find said bakery? We are serious butter tart fanciers in this house and would make a trek to visit for sure!

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  10. Ally Bean says:

    I love this building, the doors, the colors, the history. Such a cool find on your part. Of course I have to ask: did you ever find the bakery and if so, how were the tarts?

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  11. Cool cat house! I do love the combination of the deep turquoise wooden doors against the red bricks.

    Peta

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      I don’t know what I initially thought this building might be, but water tower didn’t come immediately to mind!
      What initially caught my eye was the wrought iron widow’s walk. There is something about that kind of embellishment on top of a building that always catches my eye.

      Like

  12. Su Leslie says:

    Wonderful building Joanne. I love how the Victorians built such elaborate structures to house even quite mundane (though obviously important) things.

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  13. What a beautiful find, Joanne. 😃

    Like

  14. Dan Antion says:

    This is a wonderful building, Joanne. I love the balconies, the door, the windows, the roof lines – all of it, it’s perfect. I could see spending some serious time looking at this building. I’m glad you got the tarts.

    Like

  15. Wow! That is an interesting building. I love the spoke wheel windows on the top level.

    Like

  16. bikerchick57 says:

    That’s an interesting building, Joanne. I imagine it was even more attractive when it was cared for and not a home for feral cats. The ironwork is gorgeous!

    PS: Wondering what kind of wonderful treats you found at the butter tart place.

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      The ironwork is what caught my eye – especially the widow’s walk. At one time in my youth I would have scoffed at that kind of embellishment, but the older I get, the more I’m loving it.

      That bakery exceeded my expectations – tarts with a multitude of fillings from plain butter tarts, with nuts, with raisins, to tarts with blueberry, cherry, lemon (to DIE FOR!!) and strawberry, etc.

      Then there were pies and strudels. Oodles of strudels 🙂

      Then we went down the road and got scones … both savoury and sweet.

      Did I mention cookies? OMG the cookies with caramel and drizzled chocolate on top.

      This was a day when calories were not taken into consideration, however most of what I bought ended up in the freezer for future indulgence 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. joey says:

    I think it’s marvelous! What lucky cats 🙂

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  18. I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered a privately owned water tower before. I wonder how common (or uncommon) this would be. I also wonder who the business man was, and his story.

    So cool, thanks. (You will note that I am not inquiring about the butter tarts. Nope, I am not.)

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  19. I am almost afraid to ask, but did you find the butter tarts? And what are those?

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  20. I guess brick is more durable than….uh, whatever those doors are made of.

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  21. It’s such a beautiful building, those cats are lucky to call it home. I hope it’s preserved for the future.

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  22. Very cool building! Hope you got your butter tarts.

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  23. This is an amazing building – architecture, doors, windows, and I LOVE the bars (for lack of a better word) on that last photo of the window on the side of the door. The structure itself reminds me of our lighthouses. Lovely catch for Thursday Doors. 🙂

    Like

  24. Heyjude says:

    This has to have been converted to live in surely with those sash windows and balconies etc. A prime example of what would appear on one of the Grand Designs or Restoration programmes! And yes, did you get your tarts?

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      The next time I’m in Port Hope – and I’m sure there will be a next time – I’ll have to go back to learn what I can about the interior. Now I’m more curious than ever!

      … and yes, the tarts were amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. nrhatch says:

    Cool building. Did you find the bakery?

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  26. Vicky says:

    What a superb find and great research on the building… thanks for taking us there!

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  27. What a gem you found on the way to the bakery! I love the wrought iron and all that red brick. I hope it gets restored, and put to use. I think it would make a neat little home to people as well as cats.

    I could do with one of the Butter Tarts with my morning tea right now. Miam, miam! Hope you found the bakery for some.

    Like

  28. Donna says:

    Great photos…and very interesting history. Thank you for your diligent research! I was also wondering about those butter tarts!

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  29. I hope someday the tower is restored, Joanne. It’s still in pretty good shape if they don’t wait too long. Interesting history and I imagine the family had quite a fortune to build such a structure over their well. I hope you found the bakery too!

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      That was my thinking too. This had to have been a very wealthy family. Sadly, if there was any evidence of an estate still remaining, I didn’t see it. This is such a beautiful town, it is worth the effort to go back to explore more.

      … and yes, the bakery was worth finding!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  30. conspicari says:

    What a great looking building, love the iron work.and feral cats as well, heaven. What are Butter Tarts ?

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  31. Norm 2.0 says:

    That is a gorgeous building. It’s fun the things we stumble across while in search of something else.
    So did you ever find your butter tarts?

    Like

  32. Tippy Gnu says:

    Nice piece of architecture. Looks like it wouldn’t need much work to restore it, unless the inside is a big mess.

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  33. What an amazing building! It really is a shame that it is being neglected and left to deteriorate. Someone must own it… maybe you could wiggle your way into an invitation to see the inside (and, of course, share pictures with us). Did you ever get your butter tarts?

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      The tower appears to belong to the motel sitting on the same property. This motel seems to have its own struggles to survive, so I think the tower is pretty low on its priority list.

      There was a woman who came out of the motel to bring water to the family of cats. We talked to her briefly and I really wanted to ask about going inside, but I have to get past this shyness of asking for something. I know the worst they can say is ‘no’, but I often really struggle to get past it.

      … and yes, butter tarts were procured. They were worth the effort 🙂

      Like

  34. loisajay says:

    I don’t know what you call those bars on the windows–we call them ‘burglar bars’ (nice, right?), but that starburst design is pretty. This entire building is pretty darn amazing, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. The Widow Badass says:

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing Joanne. Hope you found those butter tarts. If ever in Cambridge again, check out Dee’s Bakery. Their peanut butter butter tarts are my fave!

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Isn’t it amazing what you find when you are looking for a bakery.

    Liked by 1 person

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