Elizabeth Cottage National Historic Site of Canada

Kingston, Ontario
View of the Elizabeth Cottage National Historic Site of Canada, showing its asymmetrical façade and irregular roofline with steep gables. (© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.)
(© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.)
Address : 251 Brock Street, Kingston, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1990-02-23
  • 1841 to 1843 (Construction)
  • 1880 to 1880 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Edward Horsey  (Architect)
  • William Newlands  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • Elizabeth Cottage  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 1997-033, Gothic Revival


Existing plaque:  251 Brock Street, Kingston, Ontario

Elizabeth Cottage is a charming example of the Gothic Revival style. Reputedly built in the 1840s with a later addition, it is the work of the Kingston architect, Edward Horsey, and originally served as his residence. The lively design features steeply pointed gables, projecting bays, and oriel windows which accentuate the play of light and shadow on the smooth stucco walls. Applied Gothic decorative details such as crockets, finials, and drip moldings heighten the picturesque effect. The Gothic Revival was particularly fashionable for residences in Ontario in the mid-19th century.

Description of Historic Place

Elizabeth Cottage National Historic Site of Canada is a mid-19th-century, Gothic Revival villa. Originally built in 1841-1843, it received a large addition in the late 19th century. Elizabeth Cottage is located on a residential street in what was once a suburb of Kingston, Ontario. Unlike its neighbours, the house is set back from the street on an unusually wide corner lot. The formal recognition is confined to the footprint of the building at the time of designation.

Heritage Value

Elizabeth Cottage was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1990 for: it is a fine representative example of a 19th-century Gothic Revival villa. As a villa, it was designed to be a comfortable residence, and not to make a powerful architectural statement.

Originally designed and built by Kingston architect Edward Horsey in 1841-1843 to serve as his family residence, Elizabeth Cottage was enlarged in the 1880s with a one-and-a-half-storey addition designed by another Kingston architect, William Newlands. The house with its addition is a charming example of a Gothic Revival villa constructed in keeping with the picturesque aesthetic. Its lively silhouette, irregular plan, Gothic decorative details, and the pleasing interrelationship between the house and grounds, create a picturesque composition that defines the mid-19th-century villa. The differences in detail between the original section and the later addition show the evolution of the style during the 19th century.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, February 1990.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that relate to Elizabeth Cottage as a Gothic Revival villa include: its location in a 19th-century garden suburb; its garden setting, set back from the street; its irregular plan, asymmetrical façade and irregular roofline with steep gables, decorative chimney pots, deep eaves, bargeboards, finials, and cresting; the use of a variety of decorative window types, including oriel, pointed-arch, and bay windows enlivened with label mouldings and tracery; the integration of interior and exterior spaces through the use of French doors, bays, balconies, and a verandah; the Gothic Revival decorative details, including pointed-arch door and window openings, label mouldings, buttresses, quatrefoils, traceries, crenellations, crockets, pendants and finials, and a rose window; its exterior finishes, including smooth stucco, laid over brick and scored to resemble stone, and Gothic decorations in wood; interior details in the 1841-1843 section, including the plaster ceiling and fireplace in the drawing room; the classical features in the double drawing room of the later addition, including: the colonnaded arch, fireplace surround, and detailing; surviving original interior fittings, including the interior doors and their hardware; its relationship to the surrounding grounds, including the scale of the house in relation to its lot and the setback of the house from the street; its relationship to its setting, including its location on a corner lot, and its relationship to the mid-19th-century classical residence next door, also designed by Edward Horsey.