You’ve been waiting for it and here it is! Due to the overwhelming success of our previous article, The History of Neywash Street we are continuing our exploration of our community’s history by focusing on Neywash Street’s northern neighbour – Tecumseth Street. Steeped in history featuring many gorgeous century homes, it is a street well worth traveling next time you’re nearby.
The name Tecumseth (also spelled Tecumseh) comes from the name Chief Tecumseh, a prominent leader, and warrior of the war of 1812. Tecumseh belonged to the Shawnee Indigenous tribe of North America. He supported the British during their battles against the Americans in hopes of one day achieving an autonomous Indigenous state separate from the colonizers. Tecumseh was tragically killed during the Battle of Thames but his legacy lives on.
The Historic Homes of Tecumseth Street
Tecumseth Street boasts dozens of homes featuring various architectural period styles ranging from the 1860s until the 1910s.
22 Tecumseth The Lynch House
One of Orillia’s oldest homes, the Lynch House was one of two homes built on Lot 3 North, Tecumseth Street in 1874 by Thomas Mulcahy. Both homes were not occupied by Mulcahy and used as income properties that were rented out to local families. In 1884 the eastern half of the property was sold to Mulcahy’s cousin Ms. Julia Lynch and her husband Robert A. Lynch. The Lynch family stayed in the home for nearly 60 years until it was sold in 1943.
As the years passed on, the Lynch home started to deteriorate and required some major structural work. The house was purchased in 1954 by the Cody family (which is when I met my lifelong best friend Amy Cody). The Codys worked hard on completely renovating and restoring the home to make it their dream space, and revive the once-thriving exterior. Jay Cody, Amy’s father, was a very busy man. In addition to these home renovations, he was also the owner and operator of the well-known local holiday spot Big Chief Lodge. Once the home renovations were completed, the house was renamed Motley Hall by Joan Cody, Amy’s stepmom. When asked about the name, Amy recalls the house was nicknamed Motley Hall as a joke because the word signifies a “disparate bunch of characters…”, which she explains, was what their blended family was. The following are some of Amy’s fondest memories recounted from 22 Tecumseth St…
“There was a big evergreen tree in the backyard that we used to build forts under and play hide and seek. And there was so much snow back then, we used to build big snow tunnels in the front yard. My Dad used to burn big piles of leaves that he’d raked… everyone did back then! It smelled so good but now we know it wasn’t good for the climate.”Amy Cody
30 Tecumseth The Wilmot House
The Wilmot House is one of my favorite homes on the street because of it’s unique design and architectural features influenced by the builder and original owner of the home – Jackson Wilmot.
Wilmot was an interior designer and decorator from New York city who purchased a plot of land at 30 Tecumseth with the hopes of one day building his dream home. In the 1880s Jackson and his wife Mary resided in a small cottage on the property while the main home was being constructed. Using his design experience, Wilmot added personal touches to the home such as the gothic style roof and foyer.
Sadly, Jackson Wilmot died in 1885 and barely lived in the home of his labors. However, his wife Mary and son Theodore remained in the home for many years, until it sold in 1965. There have been multiple renovations done on the home to change the exterior and interior foundation, converting it into separate rental units. There have been some aesthetic changes made to the home over the years like board & batten siding and a new front entryway.
The Thomson House
The Thomson family was briefly discussed in our last article when we examined Longford Villa. The home at 60 Tecumseth St. predates the Longford villa and was originally constructed by John Thomson, the founder of Thomson Mills and owner of Longford Mills.
When Thomson originally purchased the lot in 1883, there was a small cottage that resided on the property. He wanted to build a larger home which was completed in 1887 with a value of $3000. The home was named “Rosebank” and belonged in the family for the next 50 years until the estate was sold off in 1940.
One of the historically famous photos of this home features a horse & buggy parked outside of the home, with the family standing in the background.
The Bartlett House
This home is a product of the early twentieth century – a time when lavishness and luxury in homes became of value. With a widening availability of resources, with new imports arriving daily, homebuilders in the early 20th century took the design to the next level, elevating aesthetics and architecture like never before.
This beautiful home was designed and built by lumber businessman Henry Bartlett around 1906, right at the dawn of the new century. Barlett incorporated various design elements from different time periods to come up with this modern eclectic creation. The home features styles in Queen Anne, Edwardian Classicism, and Gothic Revival all in one. Each structural element from the windows to the roof have all been carefully placed to give it the grandeur appeal it has. Bartlett passed away in 1930, however, the home remained in the family for 52 years, passing through relatives.
I have a personal connection to this home as well. In 1978 after we sold Neywash st home, my mom Sue Herron moved to the 2nd story apartment of the Bartlett House.
Here is a unique fact about this home that some of you may remember taking place. In the late 1980s, the Bartlett House was used for filming the movie Welcome Home featuring Kris Kristofferson, JoBeth Williams, and Brian Keith. The movie takes place during the Vietnam war times and tells the story of a soldier who comes home to visit his family after being away for a long time. The home is featured throughout the film and you can witness some gorgeous interior/exterior shots.
Other Notable Mentions
82 Tecumseth The McNab House
Built in 1905 by businessman Clarence McNab owner of McNab & Sons Hardware. I had the pleasure of listing the home for past owners of the home. Listing a historically designated home is slightly different than a regular property as there are more rules and guidelines to follow.
A.H. Fralick Soda Water
Adam H. Fralick was a businessman with entrepreneurial spirits and chose Orillia as the early site for his soda endeavor. He ran a soda water factory on Lot 1 South of Tecumseth St in Orillia, from 1874-1887. In 1888 the company moved to another facility on Front St, with it changing up the company’s bottle design and logo. Bottles that were manufactured at the Tecumseth St site are a highly collectible item for bottle collectors, and a single bottle can go for as much as $200-300 each!
Memories from past & present residents of Tecumseth St….
- Loved the house, the neighbours, and all the trees. Walking distance to downtown and the park….. – Diane F.
- Walking distance to Rombos! – Rob M.
- We had a great community, annual garage sales with potluck parties, neighborhood-wide kick the can games, and every house felt like a “block parent” – Paul David E.
- #68. Probably my favourite house in Orillia. What a stately manor. – Kristian T.
- Loved the big old houses. When I helped my sister with her paper route, on collection day sometimes got to see the vestibule of some… very luxurious to my eyes. When I started paying heating bills or re-shingling roofs, didn’t feel envious. – Grace S.
- 44 Tecumseth, corner of Peter and Tecumseth was our family home. There is a large rock on the front yard that has an iron circular bar embedded in it. As a kid, I was told that it was used to tie horses to back in the day! – Paul E.
Thank you for following along our deep-dive of Tecumseth St, – we hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about your local neighborhood!
We would love to know which street you would like us to examine next! Let us know in the comments or send us a pm.
And remember – local realtors know local best!
Forrest, Earle Barber and Dagne. “Soda Water Bottle Auction.” Maple Leaf Auctions, www.mapleleafauctions.com/auctions/auction_details.cfm?id=4470.
McDonald, Ross. Why Call It That?: the Origin of Most of the Street and Place Names in Orillia. Orillia Historical Society, 1990.
Murdoch, Su. Beautiful Old Orillia. Orillia Museum of Art and History, 2000.
Orillia Industries, Orillia Heritage Centre, orilliaheritage.com/orillia-companies/details/1/95.
Staples, Owen. Portrait of Tecumtha. 1915, Toronto Public Library.