Moy Hall

September 30, 2009

What once once farm lots 92 & 93 were owned by former Windsor Mayor John Davis. John Davis served five terms as mayor from 1897-1901. In four of the five elections he stood for mayor in (there were one year terms back then…) he was acclaimed.

The Davis farm, followed the old French ribbon farm system, and the property ran from the river as far south as where the Essex Terminal Railway ran, just north of Hanna Street.[according to "Garden Gateway to Canada"] the southern boundary was Tecumseh Road. It ran from the alley on the west side of Hall to the alley on the east side of Moy.

The size of the property is staggering by today’s standards….

The property that once was the Davis Farm, is today marked by the two fieldstone gates along Riverside Drive. You’ve probably buzzed past them hundred of times, but have you ever stopped to read the bronze plaque on them?

Despite there having been such a prominent landmark on the site, I went though every issue of the paper from November, 1912 looking for news about the demolition, only to come up empty…

Above is a photo that ran in the paper in 1917 on the occasion of Windsor’s 25th anniversary as a City.

This old mansion stood, until three or four years ago, on Sandwich Street, between Moy and Gladstone, being torn down by the syndicate that purchased the Davis form (sic) for a residential subdivision. It was known as “Moy House”, and was over 100 years old, having been built about 1796, and occupied by Angus Macintosh, factor of the Hudson Bay Company. The lumber was of the choicest walnut, having been secured from the virgin forest, and sawn by hand. It was here that Angus Mackintosh brought his young wife, a pretty French girl names Archange St. Martin. It was here also that the Indians brough their furs and made their barter. When Angus Macintosh was recalled to Scotland to take possession of the Moy estate left by his father, the laird of Moy, he sold the property to William Hall, then a government clerk. From him the property was bequeathed to his ward, who married the late John Davis.

The house that was once known as Moy Hall gave its name to the two streets that would run through the property upon laying out the subdivision in 1912… Moy Ave. & Hall Ave.

The two houses pictured above are the first houses on both the east and west side of Moy Avenue, and likely date to 1912. On Hall & Riverside is the former Danny’s, behind the low slung part, there is a very old house. In the old articles I’ve read, Moy Hall was located “Just a few rods east of the beautiful residence of John Davis, on Sandwich Street”. I wonder if the old Danny’s was the Davis house?

The above article ran in the paper on October 12, 1912, talking about the rate in which new houses were going up on the old Davis Farm.

The syndicate that bought the Davis Farm was comprised of Barrister A.F. Healy, Leo Page, E. Morton and Albert Chappus. They bought the farm for $80,000 (about $1.5 million today), and in a year had sold all 608 lots in the first phase of the subdivision, netting about $200,000 (about $3.8 million today). A decent profit for 18 months work.

You may remember Misters Healy, Page and Chappus from March. Not sure why E. Morton didn’t stick with the real estate speculation, as Healy, Page and Chappus, went on to make a ton of cash over the next few years….

The 1923 directory lists an E. Mercer Morton as being with the R.M. Morton Co., who were insurance underwriters.

Another part of Windsor’s largely forgotten past.

24 Responses to Moy Hall

  1. Paul on September 30, 2009 at 2:54 am

    Another fascinating article. Well done! (I always wondered about the significance of that “gate”).

  2. M.O.M. on September 30, 2009 at 6:27 am

    Do you have pics of the current home on the west side of Moy depicting the original clay tile roof which was stripped off only a few years ago? Such a pic would be a very important historical reference as some day that home could and should be restored to its original glory.

  3. Ric on September 30, 2009 at 7:42 am

    re: Old Danny’s building – I seem to recall looking at a fire insurance map at the museum a while back. I think that was build/and or lived in by another former mayor. I’ll check again.

  4. Andrew on September 30, 2009 at 7:53 am

    Ric – The 1937 Fire Insurance Map lists it as “Scriven’s Hotel” and the 1922 directory lists it as “The Scottish Rite Home”.

    So by 1922 at the earliest it was done being a residence.

  5. JB on September 30, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Very interesting – good work Andrew!

  6. Hez on September 30, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Always interesting to learn about our city’s history. That narrow farm style is quite different compared to what we traditionally see around here.

    I’ve always wondered about origins of the Danny’s house! From what peaks out behind the lower addition, it looks like it would have been an impressive building. Would be interested to learn more about it.

  7. Ric on September 30, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Here is the info from the Directory of the Danny’s Building – 1271 Riverside Dr E

    1953 – It is the Bellvue Hotel
    1938 – It is vacant
    1935 – Mrs. Thos Holland lives there
    1922-23 – 1117 Sandwich St. East. In the directory a Thos Conchar is located here and a Scottish rite Home
    1920 – 341 Sandwich Street which has Mrs. F. Davis living there
    1914 – Mrs. F. Davis
    1908 – John Davis
    1903 – John Davis
    1899 – John Davis

  8. Chris on September 30, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I remember coming across an old picture of the Danny’s house when it was still residential, but I can’t remember where I saw it!

    Another look at the Moy building: http://www.walkervilletimes.com/moyhall.htm#

  9. Andrew on September 30, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Ric – The City Heritage Inventory lists it as follows:

    1271 Riverside Dr E John Davis House c1890 Italianate Revival

  10. Andrew on September 30, 2009 at 11:30 am

    So there you have it. I’ve always wondered about it, and it’s the last remnant of the old Davis Farm after all. Built by former Mayor John Davis, his obituary described him as one of the Border’s wealthiest residents…

  11. Andrew on September 30, 2009 at 11:37 am

    M.O.M. – I checked and the only photo I have of it is this one from June, 2005:

    As you can see the original roof is already gone by this point.

  12. Ric on September 30, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    I knew a former mayor lived there, I just didn’t relize that Davis was the one….very cool.

    I haven’t driven by lately, is the property and business still for sale?

  13. Kevin on September 30, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Scottish Rite is a branch of Freemasonry. I wonder if this is where the Scottish Rite used to meet before the current Masonic Temple was completed?

  14. David on September 30, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    In 1797, where did the boundaries of Sandwich end then? Gladstone? What was the area of ribbon farms or the village on the other side of this boundary called before Walkerville?

  15. Andrew on September 30, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Ric – Not sure if it’s still for sale, I know it’s been open a few times and has been calling itself “The Mansion”, there was a biker party there a few months back, but I’m not sure if the parties are one off events or if it’s open again…

    Kevin – Might have been, although I’ve got it listed as the Scottish Rite Home in the 1923-24 directory, and the current Masonic Temple opened in 1921… So they stayed there at least a few more years…

    David – Not sure if there were any… It was probably only known as the western district.

  16. Liz on September 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Great post!

  17. rws on September 30, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Sorry, I can’t provide the source for this info, but I remember reading there was a sawmill in the close vicinity of Moy Hall. At the time, I thought that was a strange location unless logs were being brought down the river to the site. Then I realized Windsor at the time was still wooded. The ribbon farm shown above was unlikely to be all garden fields but became thick wood lots as one walked south from the river. In fact all of Essex County was once impassable woods and early settlers found it easier to boat around the shoreline then cross over-country. Forests in Essex County are harder to imagine than a glacier sitting on the area 10,000 years ago. But there was a forest in recent times if you accept 250+ years as recent.

  18. Shawn on March 28, 2010 at 11:13 am

    The Danny’s house was originally on Ouellette, and was the Ouellette farm house.
    It was rolled down sandwich street (riverside drive) on logs, and pulled by horses to where it sits now. So it has been there for quite some time.
    The style reflects 1870s, but there was obviously a much older farm house on the site on Ouellette before it.

    That’s all I know about it.

  19. Shawn M on March 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    /\ Might be confused with the old Commodore Club where Jason’s was.
    But I have heard this about the original Danny’s house.

  20. Keith Ray on June 26, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I have been doing a little research on the original Moy Hall near Inverness. I know the area well from fishing trips when I was young, but the original Victorian Moy Hall was demolished many years ago and a more modern Moy Hall now exists there. I have a couple of photos of the original Moy Hall, a most impressive gothic mansion in the Scottish ‘Baronial’ style. If anyone wants to see them contact me

    Keith

  21. Sabrina L on August 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Love the article! We just bought a place in the 500 block of Moy to fix up…nice to read about how the street used to be!

  22. Jay Thompson Ricard on January 13, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Keith Ray, I would LOVE to see those photos you have, so how do we contact you??

  23. Uzzy on April 30, 2013 at 8:18 am

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