Woodholme Update

You may recall this post I had last December on the beautiful and elegant London, Ontario manor called Woodholme castle.

I have been informed by acquaintance in London that development has begun around the Estate. He was very kind to share this recent update and images . . .

Sifton (a London-area property developer) originally proposed two plans - one including Woodholme situated on 1 acre of land, surrounded by 50+ premium single detatched condominums. Essentially, the terms Sifton set out: buy the land (cost was about $400,000) - and the manor itself is yours. The catch was they wanted someone, not just anyone, who had the gusto & funds to restore the mansion - it needs about $1,000,000 worth of work... (by their estimation)
The second plan was to plow the manor, and build a slightly different plan which incorporated a few more condos in the place that the manor stood...

Both plans called to "save as many trees as possible". Apparently it appears that the developer is clearing more trees than most had anticipated...

It sat for a long time "Under Contract". Former Councillor Sandy Levin (he was an amazing councillor, I wish he hadn't "retired" from politics) wrote in the North London Beacon that "Under Contract" meant they found an undisclosed buyer, subject to the terms of approval for the condo properties to surround the manor. Looks like they've proceeded with the first plan, partly as only one application was filed to the city which outlines the condo plan that will surround the Woodholme estate.

One feature to note - the plan that incorporated Woodholme would change the "front door" location. The front door currently faces what was the pool - but under the Sifton plan, it would utilize the western most south facing door as the front door, if that makes sense.

Miggsie Lawson (bless her soul) must be turning in her grave . . .



Heather said...

Thanks for this post. I work in London and will now go check this out while this beautiful manor still stands. I have heard about this place before but have not been out to see it for whatever reason.

Phil Masschelein said...

I thank you all for your interest in our property. Most of the information here is correct, but a few key points made are incorrect. For the record, I'd like to share with you some information on our project.

Sifton purchased the property from the Lawson Estate in February of 2005. At that time, we developed not just two concepts, but more like 20. These concepts included almost everything imaginable that could be proposed for the redevelopment of the property. These concepts ranged from very low density units all the way up to multiple apartment buildings. After thorough review of the plans, the market conditions and environment, we decided on a plan of 60 single detached units, all on a private road. All home sites were larger estate sized lots in today’s environment. With over 16 acres on the Estate grounds, this equates to only 3.75 units per acre. This included retention of Woodholme Manor on an oversized 1.26 acre lot. From the beginning we felt it was appropriate to retain Woodholme Manor on a true estate sized lot as to retain the grandeur of the past, as well as create Woodholme as the focal point of this new neighbourhood.

This was the plan we submitted to the municipality for approval. At no time did we submit an application for development of the property without Woodholme retained. There were not two final plans we submitted.

With Woodholme being the focal point of the development, we certainly want to make sure Woodholme is restored to its former condition. Many Londoners have never seen or even heard of Woodholme, and would have no idea to its condition. To be frank, the condition of the building is poor. We have had estimates that value a complete restoration at well over $1 million. So we need to be sure the right person purchases the property with the intention of restoring Woodholme, inside and out. With that being said, the home is under contract to an out of town buyer. A number of conditions exist in this agreement to provide a level of assurance to us and our future homeowners in the community.

On the tree point, we have bent backwards to retain as many trees as possible. With introduction of a public road now (as approved by the OMB) through the centre of the community, significant municipal standards exist for roads, with their width, and grading requirements. We also have titled the community “Woodholme Park” to create a sense of community in this very unique development.

Finally, with grading and servicing ongoing, model home construction shall commence the end of 2008 for a spring 2009 grand opening.
Our three custom home builders will offer some of London’s most creative and unique house designs. All custom built. No two homes will be the same. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to live in a neighbourhood that offers such a sense of history.

In the next few months we will be rolling out an advertising campaign, including print ads, radio and web.

We are excited to open Woodholme Park, and hope the London community will open theirs eyes to the great history and future of London’s only private residential castle.

Phil Masschelein
Vice President, Land

Sifton Properties Limited
P.O. Box 5099
London, ON N6A 4M8

Phone: 519-434-1000 X 210
Fax: 519-434-7693

Trevor Schram said...

I would just like to say that my grandparents house backs onto the estate, and I have had the pleasure of visiting Miggsie on many occasions. As a child, I used to go swimming at the manor, have tea with my parents and tour the castles secret passage way, red velvet padded walls in the master bedroom, see the old rugs which were installed from Buckingham palace, the armour, the gigantic fireplaces and see the bedroom where Prince Charles stayed. As a future architect, I think what Sifton is doing is the best thing possible for the site and the manor. As for Miggsie turning in her grave, I don't believe this at all. She always wanted what was best for London, and this is a prominent piece of London architecture, which not many people know about. By creating a luxury, private community we are embracing the historic estate and returning it to its former glory when Captain Woodholme (I believe it was him)built the castle years ago. Furthermore, by Sifton doing what they are taking the uncertainty out of what could happen to the site down the road. Instead of Luxury estates, there could be apartments, or a townhouse development. This would be detrimental to the Manor and the site, but this isn't what is happening. As the previous post stated, the manor is not in good condition. The last time I was in the house, there were multiple 'poor' additions which were constructed in the 50's/60's, outdated wiring, heat only from fireplaces, etc. I remember Miggsie saying, that she would only heat the living room on the main level, both kitchens, her bedroom, and her bathroom, because the house was just so huge" - this can cause serious structural damage. And now, with it having sat vacant for the past few years, i have noticed significant vandalism to the estate. As for the whole front door being changed, it probably is true, but the Lawsons reconfigured the floor plan to have the entrance situated off a carport and did not use the grand front entrance. Much of the home's original floor plan has been changed, and it is my hopes that the new owner will change it back to the original, grand plan it once used to be.

Trevor Schram

Anonymous said...

I love driving by and seeing this Manor with my mom, I can only imagine what is was like in it's Prime. If you are able to recieve more pictures can you please post them. It would be a dream to walk through this property I hope when it is restored they have open houses for the public to walk through.

Anonymous said...

London has a tradition of knocking down homes like this. Bravo for Siftons in planning to keep it.

It's been a long time since I've seen the inside of Woodholme - back when the Lawson boys were high school. I look forward to its restoration.

On another note, I visited 3 model homes and the 'millionaire lottery' home today. Magnificant -- this is going to be a spectacular neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Has it been knocked down???

Or can we still get in??

Anonymous said...

The property has been sold to a private individual and is being rennovated and will be a family home.
watch for an upcoming website dedicated to this marvelous building.

Anonymous said...

Save as many trees as possible. Well they didn't do that. I live near there and travel passed everyday, and they removed about 85% min. of all the trees to make space to build. So much for saving trees.

Anonymous said...

I spent a lot of my childhood visiting and playing with the Lawson family and even worked as a hired hand cutting grass, trimming hedges etc when I was 15. It is sad that the place has fallen into ruin. Another childhood memory gone.