The Scott House

Around 1820, Reuben Scott and Sarah Keeler Scott obtained a deed for 50 acres on the east side of The Corners, the first name given the town of Colborne. Like many settlers at the beginning of the nineteenth century, they had emigrated from New England to a land covered in dense forest, rich in game and fish, full of promise and endless, back-breaking work. They hacked a path north of the new Kingston Road and built a two storey cabin which may have become the kitchen of the octagon built decades later in 1853 by their son Reuben Bartlett as a wedding gift for his wife Maria Huycke. Across the road and next to a trout stream, known today as Colborne Creek, the elder Reuben established a grain mill in the 1820’s.  In subsequent years it became an iron foundry, a brick yard with a lime kiln, an evaporator and then a soap factory. Both father and son and even grandsons worked for over 80 years in this mill cum factory while their wives kept house in the octagon and another house south of the mill. Other sons and a son-in-law farmed the land well into the next century. Over the decades, bit by bit, lots from the original acreage were sold and the property was reduced to a few acres around the two houses, the mill, and a large red barn. The octagon passed out of the family in 1967 when it was sold to two successive owners until, in 1987, it was purchased and gradually restored by Edward Hagedorn and Marie Prins.

When Reuben Bartlett Scott built his octagonal house in the early 1850s, he may have adhered to the philosophy of Ogden Fowler who inspired hundreds of people to build homes, barns, and churches in this shape throughout Ontario, and the Eastern United States.  The theory for adopting this shape of dwelling was to prevent bad air and tempers from being trapped in small corners. The obtuse angles of the octagonal shape allowed energy to easily move through the rooms and out the doors, presumably a 19th century form of feng shui.  Within the walls of this unusual house, Reuben Bartlett and his wife Maria raised twelve children, all to adulthood, also an unusual feat in a time when a myriad of diseases and accidents claimed the lives of many children. The youngest of the daughters, Annetta, married George Mallory in 1906. They moved into the octagon and farmed the land as a market garden into the 1940s. George owned the first herd of pure-bred Jersey cows in the area. Nettie inherited the hand-crafted maple bedroom suite her father purchased for her mother as another wedding gift. It was passed down to her granddaughter who lives across the street in a new house built on the site of the old mill. One of George and Nettie’s three daughters resided in the octagon and raised chickens in the barn until her death in 1967. During this time, the octagon was known as the Mallory House.

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