Edgewood House was built in 1873 by John Usborne and his wife Jessie (nee McLachlin). Jessie had purchased lots O & P of Arnprior from the estate of her father Daniel McLachllin for $6000.00. As managing director of the Renfrew Fruit and Floral Company, Usborne surrounded Edgewood with extensive gardens, fruit orchards and vineyards. The tall pine trees which stood to the east of the house were the woods for which the property was named. Victorian in style, the decorative frame building was very large and situated so that the living room, verandas and upper balconies took advantage of the picturesque views across the terraced gardens to the Ottawa River.
After Jessie and John Usborne moved to Toronto around 1886, the property was sold to Jessie’s brother Claude McLachlin for $7000.00. Under Claude McLachlin’s will, executed in 1909, his son Ewen McLachlin inherited Edgewood. However, he re-conveyed it back to the estate so that his sister Norma Daisy Hall could inherit the property when she turned 21. Instrument #9948 transferred Edgewood from Claude’s estate to Norma in 1931. Norma had married Sydenham Drummond Hall in 1914. They lived in Ottawa with their two children, Norma Caroline and Eric Patterson, (known as Pat) escaping to Edgewood in Arnprior during the summer.
Norma C. Hall described the features of Edgewood to author Joan Finnigan in “Some of the stories I told you were true”. The house contained large rooms on the first floor including a living room that opened up to a covered veranda which ran across the whole north side of the house. This room contained a white marble fireplace with black trim. There was a small den next to it. Opposite the entrance, Norma described a “double room”. Through this room you reached the conservatory, on the west side of the house. An arched opening from the double room led into the dining room that overlooked the lawns to the west and south. It’s possible that while eating dinner at Edgewood, guests would have glimpsed a peacock following the head gardener, Charles Hornidge, around the property.
Behind the formal dining room was smaller dining room used by the children attended by their governesses. Across from this room was the pantry where china, crystal and silverware were kept. Norma recalled that her mother arranged flowers brought in from by the undergardener to a flower room similar to those she saw in England which contained sinks, baskets and vases. Behind that were three more large rooms starting with the servant’s dining room, then the kitchen and finally the laundry. Also located in this area was a staircase, which was used to access a separate wing containing the servants’ quarters.
Norma felt that she had the best view of the river from the balcony off her bedroom. The master bedroom overlooked John Street. Besides Edgewood House itself, there were several other outbuildings on the property including stables and an ice house. The kitchen garden supplied the Hall family with fresh produce and eggs which were packed in wooden boxes and sent by rail to their home in Ottawa on a weekly basis. According to Norma, it took eighty-five tons of coal per year, to heat the house, in order to keep it from deteriorating.
In July 1938, Norma Daisy Hall sold Edgewood to the Town of Arnprior including the house and gardens for $293.00 plus assumption of outstanding property taxes. By this time, the family had not used it as a summer residence for many years. The house was demolished by the Town in July 1942, after it was deemed a fire safety risk. People were using it for parties and the Town would have been concerned about liability. A fire did occur there not long after it was torn down, but it only burned scrap lumber piled near the demolition site.
In June 1942, Robert M. Simpson offered the Town $700.00 for Edgewood House and the part of the Municipal Park where a bowling green was located. The Town agreed to sell the house and property for that amount, with the proviso that Simpson would build a house valued at $5000.00 within one year. Simpson agreed to these terms and proceeded to build his new home, which he called Edgewood. That house has since been converted into an apartment building.