Belle Vue

Belle Vue Conservancy brings community together with yard sale

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

Over the weekend, the front lawn of Belle Vue was filled with old teacups, paintings, jewelry and other donated things by the community to assist the Belle Vue conservancy in raising more money for the restoration.

The Sept. 16-17 yard sale at Belle Vue raised $5,049.20.

“We put forward a notice to the community to ask them to please donate because we wanted to do this as a fundraiser for Belle Vue and we were absolutely thrilled at the number of people that brought things to us and the number of things that they brought,” explained conservancy member Shirley Curson-Prue. “We had really excellent response to that which made us very happy and then we set it up most of Thursday and Friday, and then started the sale this morning.”

Curson-Prue explained how some donations didn’t even make it to the sales floor, but instead will be going right into the house. One was a pump organ, which Curson-Prue said was in pristine condition and it more than 100 years old. Another item was a press machine, which was used in the 1930s by servants in big houses to press the tablecloths.

The Sept. 16-17 yard sale at Belle Vue raised $5,049.20.

The conservancy would like to thank everyone who not only donated items, but who came out to the yard sale and purchased items and made donations.

The Belle Vue Conservancy posted on its Facebook page Tuesday evening, after the Sept. 13 print issue of the River Town Times went to press, that the yard sale raised $5,049.20.

Their next event is the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” fashion gala at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery Sept. 24. For information, visit www.bellevueconservancy.com.

John G. Mullen Family and Belle Vue

 

(Editor’s Note: This is the eighth in a series of articles by historian/genealogist Debra Honor regarding the Belle Vue house and its history. Honor is a member of the Belle Vue Conservancy.)

 

By Debra Honor UE, PLCGS

 

John Gallagher Mullen came to Amherstburg as an employee for a Cleveland Ohio coal company. Three years later, he bought out the coal company share in Amherstburg and started the Mullen Coal Company that had docks in Amherstburg and Sandwich to service the steamships on the Great Lakes. His docks at Amherstburg were large enough to fuel two steamships at the same time.

John G. Mullen

His office was an old fire hall on Dalhousie St. heated by a potbellied stove with the second floor used by himself and his friends to play poker. When he opened the office, he took the key and threw it into the river, stating that his office would never be important enough to be locked. Many nights, homeless men would find a warm place to sleep and never was anything in the office touched.

John G. Mullen was a philanthropist. Once he caught a needy man from town carrying a couple of bags of coal in a wheel barrow. Mr. Mullen responded, “Why didn’t you come to me and ask for coal? I never want anyone in town to be cold.”

In the 1870’s, John G. Mullen was involved in other new technologies such as the Great North Western Telegraph Company. By 1892, Mullen, along with Colin Wigle, John A. Auld, and W.D. McEvoy started the first commercial electric plant supplying electricity for the street lights and to those families who could afford it. He also ran for mayor for four years and was successful in 1893, 1894 and 1896.

The Mullen family undertook several renovations to the Belle Vue house, including adding the front portico to the home. Belle Vue is located at 525 Dalhousie St. in Amherstburg.

In 1927, St. John the Baptist Church was building a new vestry and the Mullen family pledged ten to twenty thousand dollars.

For about 45 years, the Mullen family lived at the old Gordon House. In 1925, at the age of 77, John and Isabella Mullen, bought Belle Vue. It took the family three years to remodel it into the house we now see. They removed most of the Italianate style William Johnston added in the 1870’s and added the gazebo at the end, the front portico and the little dock down by the water. Though John G. Mullen passed away in 1930, his wife and children lived in the house until 1944 when Mrs. Mullen passed away.

Please support our fundraising campaign. One hundred per cent of your contribution will be used for restoration of the Belle Vue House. You will receive a full tax receipt and a Belle Vue gift. Visit amherstburg.ca/donate to help us open up Belle Vue once again!

COUNCIL BRIEFS — LED lighting coming soon?

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The installation of LED lighting could be coming later this year.

Councillor Rick Fryer questioned where the municipality was in the process of installing new LED fixtures in the town’s street lights. Manager of engineering and operations Todd Hewitt said the file is on his desk and admittedly is taking longer than he had hoped.

Hewitt said he anticipates there will be a tender out within a few weeks. He said there is a lot involved with what the town wants with regards to energy efficiency.

Canuck it Up thanks   Councillor Leo Meloche asked about recognizing the town’s tourism department, including Anne Rota and Jennifer Ibrahim, for the Canuck it Up! Festival. The town is praising the festival as a huge success, stating that an estimated crowd of 80,000 came out.

CAO John Miceli said he put out an e-mail to staff thanking them for their work, saying they pulled off “an amazing festival” for a department of two-and-a-half people.

 

Roadway   Councillor Diane Pouget questioned the police parking lot, noting it was supposed to be temporary but added concerns she has heard from residents about a possible road off of Sandwich St. S. leading to Belle Vue.

Miceli advised that there was nothing finalized with regards to the roadway to Belle Vue, pointing out it is merely a conceptual plan at this stage.

Seasons chips in with donation to Belle Vue

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

Seasons Amherstburg has done its part to try and restore the 200-year-old Belle Vue property.

The local retirement home presented the Belle Vue Conservancy a cheque for $811 last Friday afternoon. Linda Jackson, chair of the conservancy’s corporate outreach, said it is a national historic site that is two centuries old and that Seasons has helped out in the past.

Jackson pointed out that Robert and Debra Honor, also conservancy members, have presented information sessions at Seasons regarding the Belle Vue property. She added Seasons is a silver sponsor for the Sept. 24 “Puttin’ on the Ritz” gala being held for Belle Vue at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery.

Staff and residents from Seasons present a cheque for $811 to the Belle Vue Conservancy and Amherstburg Community Foundation last Friday afternoon.

Staff and residents from Seasons present a cheque for $811 to the Belle Vue Conservancy and Amherstburg Community Foundation last Friday afternoon.

“We can’t thank you enough for all of your help,” Jackson told Seasons staff.

Rick Daly, manager of programming and development with the town of Amherstburg, represented the Amherstburg Community Foundation and thanked Seasons staff and residents for their generosity as well.

Heather Vandenham, leasing manager at Seasons Amherstburg, said the money was raised at the retirement community’s Canada Day festivities.

“There were raffles and donations made through that event,” said Vandenham.

Many Seasons residents remember Belle Vue from some of its former uses and they would like to see it used again.

“They grew up here,” she said. “They love this community as much as we do.”

Seasons also tries to keep history alive through its residents, Vandenham added, and that residents want to keep history alive in Amherstburg.

To make a donation, people can visit www.amherstburg.ca/donate.

Native burial found at Belle Vue in 1892

 

(Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a series of articles by historian/genealogist Debra Honor regarding the Belle Vue house and its history. Honor is a member of the Belle Vue Conservancy.)

 

By Debra Honor UE, PLCGS

 

Little is known about the gravesite found at Belle Vue in 1892 by Perry Barclay Leighton. The exact location was never documented like a modern-day archaeologist would. Little was written in the Amherstburg Echo at the time. This was an accidental find by the owner. P. B. Leighton was a farmer, a real estate agent, an amateur “Antiquarian” and the owner of Belle Vue.

The first mention in the Amherstburg Echo was on 2 December 1892.

“The Indian relics found on the water lot of P. B. Leighton, some months ago, have been mounted by Mr. Leighton and are on exhibition at his office on Murray Street. D. H. Price, of Aylmer, a collector of Indian relics, was greatly taken up with these and considers them of great value. “

Over the years, the location of the burial was lost, but another article has clues. June 23rd, 1893, “While grading the bank opposite his residence, a few years ago, Mr. Leighton unearthed the remains of a dusky warrior of one hundred and fifty years ago, with all his accoutrements of war, religious symbols and fashionable adornments of that period.” Of all the 1,800 different pieces found, the most important were “a large solid silver cross 11 ½ by 8 ½ inches” and “a copper coin of 1736.”

A postcard of the Belle Vue shows the place from the Detroit River with the stones in front.

A postcard of the Belle Vue shows the place from the Detroit River with the stones in front.

The cross showed that the person was of high rank, possibly a chief of some tribe in the area. The coin gives us a clue to the burial time, which would have happened after 1736. But the coin is no longer among the artifacts of Leighton’s collection.

Again, the article of 1893 gives us a clue as to where the coin disappeared. “Mr. Leighton has not made a collection of old coins. In this respect, he yields the palm to his townsmen William S. and Frank M. Falls.” So most likely he gave the coin to them.

A lot of Perry Leighton’s collection was purchased by George MacDonald who donated his collection to the Windsor Community Museum. That is where the cross is now located.

As to the original burial ground location, there is a post card of Belle Vue from the river showing a sloping grade from the road to the river. Within the grass are white stones spelling out the name “Belle Vue”. Somewhere in that slope would have been the location of the burial. Since that time, the Mullen family have also changed the waterfront slope and added a little boat well. With all these changes, the exact spot is lost.

Please support our fundraising campaign. One hundred per cent of your contribution will be used for restoration of the Belle Vue House. You will receive a full tax receipt and a Belle Vue gift. Visit amherstburg.ca/donate to help us open up Belle Vue once again!