Organization: Belle Vue Conservancy
About This Project Idea
After the devastating War of 1812, the promise of Belle Vue gave us hope. Most of south west Ontario was devastated with drought, famine and poverty in the aftermath of a bloody and cold war but Robert Reynolds; the Deputy Assistant Commissary General at Fort Malden and son of a loyalist, took a huge leap of faith in 1814 when he bought the property and built the house to farm and give back to the community. Two centuries later and after decades of severe neglect by private owners, Belle Vue needs us! It sits empty and is desperate for revival. Currently closed to the public, Belle Vue House needs major exterior work and the windows are a key component in securing the structure. Belle Vue needs our help to restore it to its grandeur and to its status as a National Historic Site with all it’s fascinating history. It needs us to open her up again for public use. It needs us so she can return as a symbol of prosperity and growth as a national treasure, the way it gave to the Southwest region when no one else could.
The vision for Belle Vue House is to open the house and grounds again for public use. A conference center, a community based co-op arts (visual, musical, culinary, horticultural, architectural and interpretive) center is planned.
We are working on a long term goal to partner with local college and high schools as a teaching center integrating the respective programs as part of the school board curriculum. Botanical gardens for public space are also planned for the 9 acre property.
We want to see the Belle Vue alive with sustainable, inclusive and interactive activity! Belle Vue House will inspire future generations by connecting people, preserving national heritage and fueling the creative vitality of our community and region!
About this place
Belle Vue sits quietly, facing the Detroit River at the mouth of Lake Erie, just south of downtown Amherstburg. For 200 years, it has stood majestically as a reminder of a time when Belle Vue House was a symbol of a town and nation rebuilding after the War of 1812. Owner and builder Robert Reynolds; the Deputy Assistant Commissary General at Fort Malden wanted to give the community hope by building a great working and producing farm.
As a tribute to its importance in Canadian history, Belle Vue was designated a national historic site in 1959. It is one of only two buildings in Canada designated for its Palladian style architecture! The property has also been recognized by the Provincial (1984) and Municipal (1988) governments for its historic importance and for the Reynolds family. Through the Reynolds family, Belle Vue represents our connections with the North West Fur Trading Company and he was said to have met with Chief Tecumseh and other aboriginal leaders during the quest to make Canada an independent and free nation. Of great importance and significance is the sisters of Robert, Margaret and Catherine Reynolds, whose landscape paintings (one of Chief Tecumseh and General Brock at the foot of the river banks at the Belle Vue property) provide an invaluable record of early 19th century life in Upper Canada and have recorded works that still hang in the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Windsor Museum, Library and Archives Canada and Fort Malden National Historic Site. They are the first, recorded women artists of watercolor medium of that century! Next, Belle Vue House was a respite home to WW1 veterans in the early 1950’s supported by the Ministry of Veterans Affairs. Finally after housing the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Church, Belle Vue fell in to private hands that saw the Belle Vue House listed on Heritage Canada’s National Trust – 10 most endangered list while in private ownership. In 2016, the municipality Town of Amherstburg bought the property and partnered with the Belle Vue Conservancy with the goal of restoration for public use.
Belle Vue House has been waiting a long time for her story to be preserved and told. She waited patiently for rescue, but now, the time has finally arrived to “Open Belle Vue’s Windows and Doors” again!
Belle Vue means “beautiful view” in French. We will use the donations from this campaign to restore and replace the boarded windows of the house. There are 5 key windows that need immediate attention. Additional money raised will be used to restore the front door and exterior trim.