Orford historical society still concerned for the future of “the little white house”

By Gordon Lambie

The Société d’histoire du Canton d’Orford (SHCO), Orford Township’s historical society, says that it feels pulled in two directions by recent announcements from the municipality regarding the future of the much talked-about “little white house” in the former village of Cherry River. According to SHCO member Louise Gagné, the group is pleased with the decision not to demolish the building, which has strong ties to three of the region’s founding families, but troubled by the fact that a plan to build a new community centre now excludes the building entirely.
“Within a few years we will see the building crumble away out of lack of use and be demolished anyway,” Gagné told The Record, explaining that the historical society had really hoped for a plan that would link the new centre to the heritage building to give it a renewed status and importance in the community.
The SHCO has produced an extensive document outlining the history of the house and its significance from its construction by Arthur Knowlton in 1895 and its first occupants, Philena Baird and Peter Buzzell, in 1896 right up through 2011 when it stopped being a private home. Over the course of that time, Gagné explained, the house was owned almost exclusively by members of the Rider, Buzzell and Baird families, all of whom played key roles in the formation of what is now known as Orford Township
Discussion surrounding the future of the building has been ongoing for some time, and Gagné said that under the previous administration there had been a sense of openness to the idea of putting the white house to use or integrating it into a new facility. Under the current municipal administration, however, the discussion has been focused on demolition until public outcry led the council to have architect Daniel Quirion of the Jubinville et Associes firm conduct a heritage study.
The report on that study, rendered in February, recognizes the building’s importance to local history while also offering realistic reflections on its current condition.

For full story and others, subscribe now.

Share this article