Heritage Property in Chatham-Kent Recently Sold

Gray Heritage Home

If you follow my blog you know that I post several articles on the Historical sites in Chatham-Kent. I always write that Chatham-Kent is steeped in History with its connections to the Underground Railway and the several historical sites likes Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Dresden, the village of North Buxton with its history during the conflict with the Northern and and Southern States and the end of slavery and our museums that highlight this era and others for visitors to see and understand. 
 We also have ties to the early days of the Automotive Industry According to the CK Municipal Heritage Committee, William Gray and Sons owned and operated a carriage works factory which at one time employed more than 400 people and were the largest producer of carriages in Canada. Mr.Robert Gray and his son William Murray later took an interest in automobiles and formed a partnership with Dallas Dort of Flint Michigan. The Gray Dort Company had 2 manufacturing factories and produced the Gray-Dort vehicles. The company no longer exists but the Chatham-Kent Museum has one of these rare vehicles on display.Gray-Dort Coupe
 A few years ago there was a 100 year celebration of that Company . My wife and I attended and met several Gray-Dort owners from around the globe attending with their prized automobiles.Gray-Dort 100t Anniversary Celebration
 It is very interesting that today Chatham-Kent is the Classic Car Capital of Canada which is celebrated every year at Retro weekend.
There are also many Heritage Homes in our area and one such home on William St. has recently been sold. It is the original home of William Gray. I have a little personal memory of that home. When I was 17 years old and installing antennas on roofs in Chatham-Kent for our family business, Liddy’s Appliances, I was sent to Mr. Gray’s home to install an antenna on the roof. As you can imagine, we had no ladders that would reach that height and it was daunting to a teenager. Mr. Gray intervened and said “ No problem young man. You just wait here” Within a short time the newest acquisition of our Fire Department arrived with its extendable ladder and up I went. I would be stretching the truth if I did not say I was uncomfortable, big time! My legs were shaking and believe me that roof is high!  But I did the job and Mr. Gray was grateful.
This very home was recently purchased by Steven and Connie Mannering , newlyweds who are history lovers and each owned their own historical homes in Sarnia and St. Thomas. They sold these two homes and were looking for their first home together to be historically exceptional. They chose the Gray home at 143 William Street. It was built in 1896 and is known as ‘Avenel’ named after the Gray’s family ancestry land in Derbyshire in the UK. It is a three story 7800 square foot dwelling of the Queen Anne architectural style featuring a residence and a carriage house. It has many unique features including a French Chateau Inspired Tower, an elaborate central entrance veranda and a steep step that in earlier times facilitated movement in and out of carriages and still evident are iron rings for tying horses.Gray Residence Carriage House
 The residence was owned by three generations of the William Gray family which has played a prominent role in Chatham-Kent’s past. The Mannerings along with their daughter Madison, plan on preserving the structure’s integrity for years to come.
Congratulation to the new owners and welcome to Chatham-Kent!