The Rebirth of Belle Vue in 1928



(Editor’s Note: This is the twentieth in a series of articles about the Belle Vue property, most of which have been written by Debra Honor. Honor is a local historian/genealogist and a member of the Belle Vue Conservancy.)


By Debra Honor UE, PLCGS


In March of 1924, Mrs. P. B. Leighton sold the Belle Vue property to John G. Mullen, president of the Mullen Coal Company, Amherstburg. The article in the Amherstburg Echo of March 28, 1924 described the complete history of the former owners from Robert Reynolds to his son, Dr. Robert T. Reynolds, to William Johnston, to Simon Fraser and then to Perry B. Leighton. (Simon Fraser only owned the property for a few days before selling it to P. B. Leighton). The house has always held a fascination to residents in Essex County.

The article goes on to explain that the Mullen family had ambitious plans for the property including “having the beautiful grounds landscaped by a landscape artist from Cleveland, the house will be remodelled, preserving and accentuating the style of architecture, the interior will be remodelled and modernized, making it one of the finest residences on the chain of lakes.”

Belle Vue 1928 (Photo originally appeared in the Border Cities Star)

Belle Vue 1925 (Photo originally appeared in the Border Cities Star)

The next year, 1925, the Border Cities Star, had a huge article on the “Reynolds House” being renewed. In the article, it described the house as having “red brick”. The picture they use does show the house as being of dark colour though earlier photos had shown the house with white paint.

During the renovation, Mr. Mullen added a coal furnace for heating, modern electricity, a second story above the earlier bay window additions and the attached gazebo at the south end.

In describing the house in April 1928, the Border Cities Star added, “Particular attention has been paid to the landscape and in doing this Mr. Mullen has added an additional property. At the rear of the house are sunken gardens and many very attractive floral arrangements which will make the spot one of the show places of the section.”

In December 1928, the Amherstburg Echo described the house. “The residence of John G. Mullen, river front attracts great attention this Christmas season because of the beautiful colored electric lighting strung along the front and the vari-colored Christmas tree, composed entirely of electric bulbs, which flash on and off, with beautiful effect. It is the most ambitious electric lighting decoration ever before attempted in Amherstburg.”

What better way to advertise his new electric business, of which he was a partner, than with Christmas lights!

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 to help us open up Belle Vue once again or visit for more information!

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