March 28, 2009

Sign of the Times? For Sale: The Hillcrest Wellness Spa

Built in the 1870s as a grand family home and currently used for commercial purposes, this historic home would appeal to someone who has always dreamed of owning an inn or wellness spa or to an individual or family with an appreciation of heritage homes, says listing agent Ryanne McGee of Chestnut Park Real Estate.

The home, known as the Hillcrest, was built by entrepreneur and distiller James Worts as a wedding present for his daughter Emily and her husband, lawyer David Smart Jr., son of Port Hope's postmaster and local distiller.

It was sold to Joseph Schwartz of Pittsburgh, Pa., in about 1894. In 1917, the Schwartz family changed its surname to Black. For nearly 100 years, the Black family used the house as a summer home. Mr. Schwartz's brother used the same architect to build his family's summer home across the road.

The Hillcrest was sold out of the Black family in 1973 and has had five owners since, says Ms. McGee, who has the exclusive listing with Dee McGee. "The most recent owners invested in the restoration and preservation of this provincially designated historic property."

A circular driveway flanked by white pillars and original gates leads on to the 14-acre property and to the 15,000-square-foot house. The property has mature trees, gardens and a concrete pool.

An "immense portico" on the north side was added in 1900; there is also a 50-foot library/study, influenced by the classical style of Thomas Jefferson, Ms. McGee says.

The nine-bedroom, 13-bathroom Beaux Arts-style home has a hall with a Waterford crystal chandelier and a curved staircase.

The main-floor rooms have 12-foot ceilings, fireplaces and original brass wall sconces, chandeliers and woodwork. The dining room, which overlooks Lake Ontario, was originally a porch. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer a view of the lake.

Most of the bedrooms have high ceilings, fireplaces, original fittings and woodwork, and ensuite bathrooms.

The second floor has five bedrooms, a servant's bedroom and another bedroom off the nursery with its own staircase to the main and third floors.

Four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a kitchen and a staircase to the rooftop deck are third-floor features.

The Hillcrest is in Port Hope, where many of the town's original buildings have been restored. Trinity College, established in 1865, attracts students from around the world.

Many well-known musicians, artists and writers live in the Port Hope area. One of the community projects that reflects the values of the town is the restoration and operation of the 1930s Capitol Theatre.

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