Welcome to Rockwood Heaven
The Rockwood Academy [#21]
This magnificent old structure was built in 1850 as a school for boys. It operated as a school until 1883. William Wetherald, a Quaker, was its first principal and railway magnate J. J. Hill, who is commemorated in a plaque on Guelph Street, was its most illustrious student. In keeping with the religious inclination of the Quakers, the Academy provided a simple but strict and thorough education. After its years as a school, the Academy passed through numerous hands and had fallen into sad disrepair when purchased by Josef Drenters in 1960. It became literally his life's work to restore the Academy and its outbuildings. Today, as well as the main building, a log barn is habitable and the chapel on the property has been beautifully restored. It is said that Josef greatly resembled old Principal Wetherald and believed, in his mystic way, that he might be a reincarnation of this man, sent to save the Academy from it derelict state. The restoration of this grand building has been called by some "Josef Drenter's Greatest Sculpture".Josef Drenters bequeathed the property to the Ontario Heritage Foundation with an agreement that it still be available to the Drenters family as a residence. Andreas Drenters, a sculptor, and his family still live in the Academy. Because it is a private residence, it is not open for tours. The movie Agnes of God was filmed at the Academy.
The Grist Mill [#15]
201 Main Street South
The Henry Strange grist mill was built about 1843. Since then it has had several owners: John R. Harris, C. W. Hortop and James Milne. In 1977 the mill was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Mort Rapp and was converted into a private residence. The interior retains much of the look of the old mill with the original floors and ceilings and stone walls but with the modern luxuries of electricity and heating added.
Burnaby Cottage [#6]
136 Guelph Street
This private residence is believed to be the oldest building still standing in Rockwood. It was built by the original settler Richard Harris, likely in the 1820's. Typical of settlers' cottages, it is built of log with a main room downstairs and a loft above. Over the years it has been clad with a variety of materials - most recently vinyl siding.This cottage would originally have been located a considerable distance south of where it currently stands - closer to the Rockwood Academy. The property deed states that the Bolton family purchased this lot from Squire Henry Strange in 1873. It is believed that the cottage was moved shortly after. The cottage has had several additions. The most interesting is the section at the right which was added as a free-standing two room cottage for "mother". This part has now been joined inside and has a continuous roof outside. The current residents have lived here since 1974, first using the house as a summer property and now as a fulltime residence. During the filming of the movie Agnes of God at the Rockwood Academy, Meg Tilley, her baby and a nanny stayed at the cottage.
The Death's House [#23]
310 Main Street
Although it is difficult to tell from its appearance today, this house is one of the older residences in Rockwood, having been built in the 1840's. Its current owners, Ray and Betty Death, know that the original settlers came from Ireland and built their home in the style with which they were familiar. The settlers started by digging down into the earth until they came to solid stone. They then excavated some more to create a sound foundation. The stone taken out of the "hole" was used to construct the walls of their dwelling. The house started out as a simple cottage - one room up and one room down. It is the back part of today's house which was the original dwelling.
Rockwood House [#18]
112 Old Quarry Road
This lovely stone cottage on Old Quarry Road is one of the oldest residences in Rockwood, dating back to circa 1840. The limestone building, now the home of John Berg and Janet Beddoe, was originally built for the Harvey Lime Kiln foreman. The house is much larger than it first appears. From the side you can see the first floor and the two-storey addition, added early in the century. The barn beside the house is also venerable, having stabled the mules for the quarry. The horseshoes seen above the doorways were all found on the property.
Notables who have lived in the home include well-known Canadian artist Jack Reid, who created a limited edition watercolour called "Rockwood House", and CBC radio host Peter Gzowski, a descendant of Sir Casimir Gzowski who played an important role in the early development of Rockwood. For over 150 years the house has been a delightful and much-loved home to many generations.
Mill Owner's House [#17]
267 Main Street South
This beautiful building was built as the residence of the owner of the gristmill. It is another example of traditional architecture with its graceful lines and double doors. It is currently owned by the Drenters family. The house is of quarried limestone. The double front doors are an elegant touch on this Georgian style house.