Pat and Denise Hall have been caretaking a grand piece of Thornbury history. Their home was built in 1904 by Mathias Snetsinger, a former mayor of the small town on the shores of Georgian Bay, whose vision was to showcase different species of wood (some of them quite rare) from around the world. Each door and column, every inch of trim, is heavy, solid and clear of knots. Sycamore, oak, black cherry and bird’s-eye maple are just a few of the species in the home.
The series of homeowners that followed Snetsinger evidently appreciated and preserved his choices. “When you live in a home like this, you’re very aware that you don’t own the house. You’re just a caretaker, looking after it for the next generation,” says Denise.
Beginning with the four-inch thick front door, framed by wide, deep-set sidelights and transom, leading into the broad staircase and panelled hall, the talent, love and craftsmanship that went into the home is obvious. After more than 100 years, “There’s only one nick, on just one door, in all the woodwork,” observes Pat.
He notes the quality of the 113-year-old masonry as well – the hairline thickness and mechanical precision of the mortar, the lack of even the slightest sag or crack. Imagining the stone masons achieving such a feat with nothing but a string for a level, he declares, “It really is a work of art.”
Conscious of the home’s value to the community, the couple’s updates were designed to modernize while maintaining the house’s history. Decorating choices were part of this effort. They worked with Deborah Masters to select paint colours and Nancy Driscoll of Fresh Designs for window coverings, all intended to complement and highlight the woodwork.
The couple furnished the home with many antiques including a sideboard in the dining room from Kettlewells.
Although the majority of the renovations were undertaken by Pat, who for decades remodeled washrooms through his company JP Hall, the couple chose Rob Perry of Riverside Custom Cabinets to construct the cabinetry in the kitchen, bathrooms and mudroom.
Artifacts have been passed on with the home – a print of Snetsinger standing in the dining room, surrounded by carpenters and the working tools of their trade, photos of the Snetsinger family and the home at various times through its history.