The house at 27 Parkway Avenue was built in the late 1920’s by Albert Lewis on rainy days. On sunny days, he and all the hired men were working in the fields on the farm that stretched east to the 9th Line. Parkway Avenue was the farm lane.
The house was built sufficiently large to house his wife, Maggie Lewis, and his son Carman and daughter Audrey, as well as room for the hired help. In those days, there was not a lot of money for paying help, but with a large house, room and board could be offered. The house was originally standing on the Rigfoot Farm at the North West corner of the 10th Line (Now Reesor Road) and the 16th Avenue about where the temporary Markham By-Pass is now located. The house was not in a condition to be moved, so it was dismantled and brought over by horse drawn hay wagons.
I remember Albert Lewis, (my grandfather) telling the story of building it. “We had a big saw in the basement where we were sawing up the logs that we’d cut from the bush near the 9th Line. We had the walls and the roof up, as well as some of the partitions, but the house was not finished yet. I was in the basement by myself, and suddenly there was a tremendous crack and a groan like a sailing ship. Dust and dirt started drizzling down on me, and I was worried. I looked down, and there was a tree trunk lying on the floor. I lifted it up and it just fit under one of the joists, which sagged down and rested on the top of the tree trunk.” (There are currently other supports, but the tree trunk is still there.)
The foundation is built of solid fieldstone from the farm. It was common practice for farmers to carry stones that were turned up by the plough and put them along the side of the lane. After many years of working a farm, there would be a substantial row of stones along the lane fencerow. When Albert Lewis had the basement dug for the house, he had it dug deep so that there would be enough height to build a walk in cold box for keeping the milk in. The basement was dug by hand, with the help of a horse and a draw to pull the dirt out. This also made a ramp on the north east corner that was later used by Carman Lewis to bring the milk truck in after picking up the cans of milk from the farmers.
Putty Smith from Box Grove was the best stone mason in the area, and he went down the lane to choose the correct stones, and then chiselled and fit them to build the foundation. Putty Smith lived in the second house north of the general store in Box Grove.
For a Link to Parkway Avenue, click here
For a historic link to 27 Parkway, click here