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Tours of the House



For summer 2021, Fairfield House will not be open for tours due to conditions in response to Covid-19.

During summers before Covid-19, guided tours of Fairfield House were offered Wednesday to Sunday from Canada Day to Labour Day. The house was open from 11 am to 4:30 pm, with interpreters ready to greet visitors as they arrived. A tour for a group or a tour outside the summer schedule were scheduled by contacting the FHHA.

A Tour Sampler

This "Tour Sampler" follows the guided walk through the house from the cellar to the attic durin which visitors are introduced both the architecture of the house and the history of the family. A tour of Fairfield House is an opportunity to gain a richer understanding of the cultural, technological, and economic changes that happened to the family and the area from settlement in 1784 to the close of the 1800s.


A Tour Sampler

The House:

View of Fairfield House, circa 1990.

View of Fairfield House, circa 1990.
The Cellar

The cellar extends the full length and width of the house. It was dug out of the limestone bedrock native to the area. The limestone was pried loose layer by layer by hand, and was used for the foundation walls, the fireplaces and chimneys, and as the source material for the lime needed to make mortar and plaster.

Hand-hewn oak beams bear the ax marks of the workmen of the 1790s. These beams carry the floor boards of the rooms above. These also have tool marks that help date their history.

View of southeast corner of Fairfield House cellar, cut full height into the limestone of the site.

View of southeast corner of Fairfield House cellar, cut full height into the limestone of the site..
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The Front Hall

You are exploring a house that is being preserved as a significant artifact. Original materials and building techniques have been left as found. The rooms have not been refurnished.

The furniture and artifacts in Fairfield House belonged to the Fairfield family and were in the house when the Fairfields donated their property to the Province in 1959. The writing desk with bookcase was owned by Stephen Fairfield, the second generation owner of the Fairfield homestead.

Fairfield House follows a central hall plan. This building layout focuses on symmetry, for both the exterior and interior of the house, balanced on the central hall. This layout is continued on the second floor and into the attic as well. On the first floor, the hall has entrances to the parlour, tavern, dining room, and kitchen.

The pine floorboards were painted in a distinct pattern of red, yellow, and black. These are now protected by a painted replica.

Just inside Fairfield House front door in the center hall that leads to the stairs and to the kitchen wing.

Just inside Fairfield House front door in the center hall that leads to the stairs and to the kitchen wing.
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Tavern

The front room to the east of hall represents a major change in the use of the 1793 farmhouse by the Fairfields. In 1802 Stephen Fairfield took out a tavern licence. The Fairfield farmhouse was well situated for this new line of business, as the road from Kingston to Bath at the time passed in front of the house. The highway relocated behind the house about 1960 when Fairfield Park was formed.

A range of physical evidence points to the changed use of this room to make space for a new business. A new exterior door was added in the south-east corner of the room. Outside this door, a variety of shards, including broken bottles, clay pipes, and old coins, were found during the restoration of the side porch before 1984.

Family documents that survived in Fairfield House included tavern accounts, an innkeeper's license, and regulations for tavern keepers.

Shards of glassware and clay tobacco pipes found just outside the east corner of Fairfield House

Shards of glassware and clay tobacco pipes found just outside the east corner of Fairfield House.
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The Dining Room

When the east front room changed to have a public use, the Fairfields moved their corner cupboard into the adjoining room, which the Fairfields used as their dining room. Moulding details and layers of paint are the clues to this history.

The dining room had other paint evidence of the past. The walls and ceiling were originally finished with the water-based coating known as calcimine, made of glue, crushed chalk, and pigment. For the ceiling, pigment had been added to give a rose colour.

The pine floor had been painted in a checkerboard pattern with ochre yellow and barn red oil paint. A similar colour scheme was used for the more ambitious pattern found in the hall. In both areas, the original painted floorboards have been protected by replica patterns on masonite.

Fairfield House dining room with restored colors for walls, ceiling, and the woodwork around the fireplace and a reproduction of painted floor with checkerboard pattern.

Fairfield House dining room with restored colors for walls, ceiling, and the woodwork around the fireplace and a reproduction of painted floor with checkerboard pattern.
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The West Attic

The work of the Loyalist builders surrounds you. Pine rafters complete the framing of the house. The rafters are seated on the oak top plates of the walls. These are supported by the posts that extend the full height of the long sides of the house.

Between the posts, narrow split oak boards are stacked and separated by mud and straw daub. On the interior of the house, this medium was smoothed and scored to provide keying for a finish coat of plaster.

The widths of the pine floor boards in the attic are evidence of the size of the trees standing on the land being cleared for the farm.

This space provided sheltered work space and storage space. For the later generations of the family, the west attic was the place to retire items no longer in use.

Fairfield House west attic with view of east partition wall of handmade bricks and of the hewn rafters supporting original pine roof boards.

Fairfield House west attic with view of east partition wall of handmade bricks and of the hewn rafters supporting original pine roof boards.
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The East Attic

The east room in the attic has plastered walls, a chair rail, and a finished ceiling of beaded tongue-and-groove boards supported by bead-edged beams. Such details speak of the room's importance when it was built.

Whatever the room's first uses, it became a workroom when the loom was set up. A warping reel, where the long warp threads were measured off, was fixed in place near the loom. According to the 1871 census, the family reported home production of flannel.

The double boxstove warmed the work area. It would have been brought up to the attic after it had become too old-fashioned for display in a more public area to impress guests.

Fairfield House east attic where the loom stands by the window. The cast iron stove in the foreground at the right warmed this work area.

Fairfield House east attic where the loom stands by the window. The cast iron stove in the foreground at the right warmed this work area.
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The Second Floor Veranda

The verandas and the French windows on the second level were added to the house around 1860. At that time, the family had discontinued the inn and tavern business. The Fairfields were now a farming family.

Visitors came for vacation-time fishing, gathering nuts in the fall, or just enjoying the country and lakeside surroundings. Sailing vessels and steamboats moved through the view over the lake. On the road in front of the yard, riders and horse-drawn vehicles brought news of the neighbourhood or offered diversions from the everyday matters of the household.
View to the lake from the upper veranda of Fairfield House.

View to the lake from the upper veranda of Fairfield House.
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The South-East Bedroom

The Fairfield Collection:

Throughout the years, the Fairfields furnished their homestead to answer basic needs and to please their sense of stylishness.

Objects remained in the house either because they continued to be used or because they were out of the way of active daily life. Many useful or attractive objects moved out of this house to play roles in others.

In the twentieth century, the Fairfields donated the contents of the house as part of the history of their own family and its community.

The Fairfields' cobbler's bench with handmade boots found in the House.

The Fairfields' cobbler's bench with handmade boots found in the House.
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Site last updated: May 2021.