The Flower House
Anthony Flower built a small, one and a half storey frame house with a fieldstone cellar on the shores of Washademoak Lake about 1818. The original house consisted of one large room on the first floor, with a fireplace on one end, and one room on the second floor with sloping ceilings and two windows on either side of the chimney. Roughly 16 feet square with an eight foot ceiling, the cosy dwelling was fairly typical of the time for new settlers in the colony of New Brunswick. Houses were built for shelter and warmth first, and could be added to over time as necessary. Glass was expensive and large windows a luxury at this time, so Anthony's little house had few sources of light. We have no reason to think that the main orientation of the house was not toward the lake, the main transportation source.
Once married in 1820 to Mary Green, his family grew in the 1820s and 1830s. To the land side of the house, two small rooms separated by a small entry hall were added: a pantry and a small bedroom, along with a stairway to the second floor. With this addition, the north side of the house took on the facade of a salt box style with the roofline extending down over the new addition. Anthony and Mary raised two sons and two daughters. It is difficult to appreciate the flurry of activity that must have gone on in this small space: marriage, four children in 15 years, clearing and cultivating farm land and not only finding time to paint, but organizing and maintaining adequate space to pursue his artistic passion.
Over the next several decades a variety of changes were made to the house as the family expanded and prospered. A door here, a window there, new paint, some wallpaper. Probably the greatest change occurred when James Flower married Mary Matilda Clark in 1852. Soon after the marriage the house was expanded with an 18 x 16 addition to accommodate James and Mary Matilda's growing family. This addition included a comfortable parlour on the first floor, two bedrooms on the second floor and an ample central hallway with front door to connect all of the rooms. By the twentieth century, dormers had been added to expand the upstairs living spaces and provide some much needed headroom, the kitchen fireplace was replaced with a stove, and another bedroom had been added to the rear of the 1850s section.
The house remained in the Flower Family until 2002 when it was offered to Queens County Heritage Inc. as a historic building by James and Sandra McFarland. Most recently, it had been the summer residence of the late James Flower, West Oakton, Illinois, and a great-grandson of Anthony. Mr. Flower passed away in 2001, just after his 100th birthday. Inspired by the enthusiasm of one of our youngest supporters, Eric Bond, Society members and the Museum Board of Directors recognized the significance of the building and began discussions for its preservation. At an auction on 31 August 2002, numerous items were acquired by QCH and through the generosity of several friends. QCH hosted an Auction Preview and raised our first $500 toward the project. Along with several pieces of family furniture, QCH was very fortunate to acquire several more portraits for the collection at the auction.
Since the house required relocation, site discussions began immediately. Several properties were suggested, offered, and thoroughly investigated in the Gagetown and Cambridge-Narrows areas. In September 2003, the house and summer kitchen were moved to their new home on a large lot near the center of Cambridge-Narrows. The house was raised off its fieldstone foundation, loaded on a flatbed truck, and transported 4 km its new home. Dozens of hydro and telephone wires were dropped and the event drew crowds of interested and curious locals along the route. Classes from the local school dropped by to see the house roll by and a small exhibition of Flower memorabilia was shown at the Municipal Building. The house was placed on a one acre lot next door to the Anglican Church and directly across from the Municipal Building. The lot included a recently drilled well and a septic system to help meet the needs of the long-term preservation, accessibility and usage of the buildings. Although the property is on the opposite side of the road from the original site, the house retains its original orientation toward Washademoak Lake.
In 2004 and 2005, work progressed on securing the house on a new concrete foundation faced with fieldstone from the original site. In 2006, a new cedar shingle roof and some other exterior repairs were done in preparation for more detailed work in 2007.
In 2006 we mourned the tragic loss of two of our friends and supporters, Leola and Eric Bond. The Bond family generously allowed memorial donations to be made to the Flower Project.
As a result of Eric's keen interest in the Flower House, in the spring of 2007 the Eric James Bond Memorial Auction raised several thousand dollars for the project. The auction was made possible through the generosity of the Bond Family, artists, craftspeople, antique dealers and many other friends from around the Maritimes who donated items for the sale.
Throughout the rest of 2007 work on the exterior of the house went ahead at a rapid pace. The summer kitchen was completely re-shingled, finishing clapboards were installed around the base of the main house, the front door was levelled and the exterior was painted.
In the spring of 2008, interior work commenced in preparation for the grand opening in August 2008. The interpretation of the house and site got underway with funding approved through the Exhibitions Renewal and New Museological Support Program, Heritage Branch, Tourism, Heritage and Culture, Province of New Brunswick.
Now completed, the restored house will preserve the dwelling, art and artifacts of the Flower Family. It will interpret the story of Anthony Flower and his art, family and community through lively interpretive tours and events. The grounds and site will be developed for multi-purpose environmental and rural industry interpretation. In addition to highlighting Flower, the site will showcase the vibrant art and culture of historical and contemporary New Brunswick through educational demonstrations, workshops, lectures, exhibitions, talks and youth programs.
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