A 19th-century home belonging to a Black settler who escaped slavery is set to receive a major renovation worth over a million dollars. The Griffin House, located on a hilltop overlooking the Dundas Valley and designated as a National Historic Site in 2007, is the focus of a multi-year restoration project funded by the federal government.
Phase one of the restoration, which involves fixing the foundation of the clapboard home built in the early 1800s, began in the fall and is expected to be completed by April. The second phase, consisting of exterior restoration, the addition of new porches, and an improved ramp and path, is set to be finished by 2024. Work on the interior, community consultation, and interpretation development will follow before its anticipated reopening in spring 2026.
The city stated that the building will undergo foundation, woodwork, and window restoration, fresh paint, new stoops, and repairs to rectify previous issues with water infiltration, decay, animal damages, and vandalism. The project was delayed by three months due to “slow processes.”
The Griffin House holds historical significance due to its association with Black settlement in pre-Confederation Canada, at a time when a “major influx” of Black immigrants travelled north along the Underground Railroad to escape slavery and restrictive laws in the United States. The house was built in 1827 and is considered a “rare” example of typical early 19th-century Upper Canada architecture.
Enerals Griffin and his wife Priscilla, Black immigrants from Virginia, settled in the 733 Mineral Springs Rd. home in 1834 and it remained in their family for over 150 years. The Hamilton Conservation Authority acquired the 18-hectare property from the Griffin family in 1988 and opened it to the public in 1995.
Due to its location in what was once a “predominantly Euro-Canadian area,” the house conveys the diversity of the Black settler experience, according to Parks Canada. The house consists of a dining room and living room on the main floor and two bedrooms on the upper floor.
The project was granted nearly $1 million in federal funding through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program in December 2020.