The Burr House & Guild Hall History
To Preserve in Our Present Community an Awareness of the Culture of Our Forefathers
 - The Richmond Hill Historical Society -

Burr House History
c 1819
528 Carrville Road, Richmond Hill

In 1808, Rowland, the 10 year old son of Reuben Burr, decided to become a carpenter. For the next seven years he worked in his father’s shop in Aurora, learning carpentry and mill construction. He later became  one of the outstanding millwrights in York County.

At 17, he went into business for himself and by 23 he had built himself a house. In  1819 he married Hester Lamoureux in St. James Cathedral in Toronto. After the wedding the young couple went to live in the house Burr built on Lot 41 Township of Vaughan - now part of Richmond Hill.

By the late 1820’s Rowland and Hester were living in a four-room Ontario Cottage of plank-on-plank construction; Rowland probably produced the lumber for his house at the mill he had built on the stream to the west in 1828. He and Hester lived there for  20 years, raising one son and five daughters. The sawmill was worked for about 20 years, but Greenfield Mill, the flour mill he also built was destroyed by fire in 1840.

In 1836, he sold his Vaughan Mills house and land and moved to Toronto, but after 1 year moved to a hewn-log house on the Humber River where Woodbridge (then known as Burrwick) now stands. The home he built in the 1840s may now be seen at Black Creek Pioneer Village, where it is known appropriately as Burrwick.

Sometime before he moved from this Carrville Road home, Burr built a blacksmith’s shop where his father, who lived with him, worked. Samuel Sanderson bought the property in 1836 and continued the blacksmithing business until 1844 when Thomas Boothby, another blacksmith, took the property over.

The Boothbys enlarged the house sometime before 1851, adding three brick rooms, including a large kitchen with cooking fireplace and bake oven. The bake oven was removed at some point but has been restored by the Richmond Hill Historical Society.  

The Boothbys remained in the house until 1872 after which it passed through a number of owners until George Wood bought it in 1897. The Woods family lived in the house until the late 1960’s when Cadillac Baif bought the land for a subdivision. Burr House was subsequently acquired by the Town, and renovated by  the Historical Society on its original site at 528 Carrville Road, now known as Woods Park.

In 1990 the Keefer Small House, a summer kitchen/woodshed found in Vaughan, was rebuilt as an addition  to provide a new entrance to Burr House, replacing earlier wings, which had been built at various times during the lifespan of the house.

Current Use

In 1973 the newly formed Richmond Hill Historical Society urged the Town to acquire the house at 528 Carrville Road. For several years, they operated the house as a working craft house for the demonstration and teaching of hand crafts and pioneer household activities. The building also served as a local museum and later, a craft and gift shop. During this time, Burr House became the home of Richmond Hill Burr House Spinners and Weavers Guild (a group that evolved from students of Burr House Craft classes) and the Hill Potters’ Guild.

In 1982, these two guilds formed a partnership with the Historical Society and jointly took over the operation of the Burr House, converting it to the Burr House Artisans - Gallery, Shop & Tearoom. The historical society has since stepped away from the operation of this property which is continued by the two guilds. The Gallery now presents fine local arts and crafts by local artists  and runs on volunteer labour from the two groups.

Guild Hall
c 1857
530 Carrville Road, Richmond Hill

In December of 1856, John Atkinson sold 1/4 acre of Lot 41, Conc. 1, Vaughan to the Trustees of the Canada Conference of the Evangelical Association of North America. The following years a Church of vertical plank construction was built and served its congregation until 1882. At this time a 99 year lease was given to John Leece, who converted the Church into a residence, shortening the tall windows and putting in a second floor.

John Prentice took over the lease in 1893. He, in turn, sold the property to Walter Bone in 1901. It is as the Bone house that it is remembered locally.

The Church building is of plank construction but of variety different from the plank-on plank used in the Burr House. The exterior clapboard, apparently the original, covers two inch by ten inch vertical planks, rebutted into the plates and sills. This method eliminated the need for any posts or studs as the planks themselves serve as the structural members.

The double leaf, panelled front door were restored 1994 through a grant from the Pennsylvania German Folklore Society, York Chapter. The flat window opening have  9x6 panes, double hung sashes, and modded trim characteristic of early to mid nineteenth century structures. This simple design, with gable end facing the road, and its deep return eaves, reflects a restrained Classical Revival style. This was the style of choice for early meeting houses and came to represent simplicity and solidity in construction as well as in worship.

In 1978, the Town of Richmond Hill purchase the vacant building when it was decided to widen Carrville Road. When the building was relocated from its original location was at the northeast corner of Carrville Road and Bathurst Street, and was moved east to sit beside the Burr House in Woods Park. Under the direction of the Richmond Hill Historical Society the building was restored to its probable church form, after much hard labour by dedicated volunteers. Today to serves as studios to two craft guilds. It was officially opened as Guild Hall in the fall of 1982.

Burr House Spinners & Weavers

This guild arose from the enthusiasm  of the weaving and spinning students of the Burr House Pioneers Craft classes.

Hill Potters’ Guild

Originally part of York Potter's Guild, the group branched of on its own and resided in the Burr House until Guild Hall renovations where completed in 1982.