Belle Vue through the hands of the property owners – Part 2

 

(Editor’s Note: This is the fifth 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

 

The next owner was Perry B. Leighton who was a farmer, real estate agent and amateur archeologist. He bought the property on 4 Apr. 1887. He used one of the new big rooms as his personal museum where he showed off his collection of Indian artifacts and guns. Perry Leighton died in 1905 but his wife, Mary Jane Tofflemire Leighton lived in the house until she sold it on Dec. 7, 1925 to Isabella H. Mullen, the wife of John G. Mullen. The Mullen family had lived in the Gordon House for 45 years before moving into Belle Vue.

Pictured is a piece of Perry Leighton’s  collection. (Photo courtesy of the Marsh Historical Collection)

Pictured is a piece of Perry Leighton’s collection. (Photo courtesy of the Marsh Historical Collection)

The Mullens spent three years renovating the home almost back to its original appearance in the again popular Georgian style. John G. Mullen, who ran the Mullen Coal Company, did not live long to enjoy the property. He died in 1930. Mrs. Mullen stayed on at Belle Vue until her death in May 1944 at the age of 90 years.

The Mullen family sold the property to the Government on June 1, 1946 to become a convalescence home for WWI veterans. Local Legions in the area lobbied for the government to acquire the property for this purpose. They also helped to entertain the veterans. But the project was short lived as the government consolidated their hospitals in London, Ontario. In September 1954 Bellevue Veterans Home closed and the patients were bused to London.

Mrs. Nellie Tetzlaff tried to operate Belle Vue as a nursing home but due to ill health failed and the property reverted to the government. The house lay empty for seven years.

Belle Vue was also a veteran's home at one point in its 200-year history. (Photo courtesy of the Marsh Historical Collection)

Belle Vue was also a veteran’s home at one point in its 200-year history. (Photo courtesy of the Marsh Historical Collection)

Through the efforts of Richard Thrasher, MP, Essex South and Eugene Whelan, Warden of Essex County, the Belle Vue property was sold on Oct. 18, 1961 to the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Their opening Ceremony was held on June 3, 1962. The church owned the property for about 42 years but with declining numbers, the property was sold to a numbered company.

The house has sat empty and unused since 2003. Heritage Canada called it “demolition by neglect.” Because of the lobbying of many concerned citizens, the Town of Amherstburg heard their voices and bought the property on Nov. 14, 2016 to develop a park and restore the house.

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!

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