François Bâby House National Historic Site of Canada
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.
254 Pitt Street West, Windsor, Ontario
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1811 to 1811
Event, Person, Organization:
War of 1812
Major General Isaac Brock
Brigadier General William Hull
François Bâby House
Existing plaque: on post few metres east of house 254 Pitt Street West, Windsor, Ontario
This house and adjacent farmland were the property of François Baby (1763-1856), first member for Kent in the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada (1792-96), militia officer and Assistant Quarter Master General during the War of 1812. When the Americans invaded Canada in July 1812, Brigadier Genearl William Hull set up his headquarters in François Baby's house and camped his troops on the farm. After Hull's withdrawal, British guns mounted here covered Isaac Brock's advance across the river to capture Detroit on 16 August 1812.
Description of Historic Place
The François Bâby House National Historic Site of Canada is a well-proportioned, two-storey, Georgian style, red brick house, originally built in the early 19th century. It is situated on a tightly bound lot on the southern bank of the Detroit River in downtown Windsor. The house and its lot are surrounded by intensive urban development. Official recognition refers to the house on its legal property.
The François Bâby House was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1950 because: this house was the headquarters of Brigadier-General William Hull when he invaded Upper
Canada prior to the surrender of Detroit to General Isaac Brock, 16th August, 1812; a gun located on this site and four guns somewhat to the eastward fired on Fort Detroit
during Brock's advance.
The heritage value of the François Bâby House derives from the important role it played during the War of 1812. Its association with this historic event is illustrated by the site, by the surviving original material in the heavily rehabilitated house, and by the potential archaeological remnants.
François Bâby, a prominent local political and administrative figure, began construction of the house in the spring of 1812. In July 1812, American forces, led by Brigadier-General William Hull, crossed the Detroit River and used the unfinished, but strategically located Bâby House as headquarters for the invasion. When Hull retreated in August 1812, the Bâby House was occupied by British forces under Major-General Isaac Brock. Brock’s forces built an artillery battery for four guns on the property, and used the battery to open fire on Fort Detroit. On the following August 16, the British crossed the river and Hull surrendered Fort Detroit to Brock. In 1815, Bâby moved back into his house, developing the property and changing the house over the years. After years of neglect and a major fire, the Windsor Historic Sites Association rehabiliated the structure in 1948. It now serves as a community museum.
Source: Commemorative Integrity Statement, 2003.
Key elements that contribute to the heritage value of the site include: its location on its original strategic site; the orientation of its north elevation towards the river; the surviving view from the original north side of the property to the Detroit River; the footprint of the original building; surviving original exterior elements, including the rubble foundation, the remains of the north entrance foundation, the back of fireplace in the basement, the visible brick remains of the two end walls, the majority of the north brick wall, and the supporting wooden timber under the south entrance; surviving remnants of original interior finishes, including plaster, paint, and wooden railing blocks for interior mouldings; potential surviving archaeological resources, including traces of the gun batteries and remnants of the builder’s trench.