LaFranier House - Town of Gravenhurst

Blaine House

LaFranier House

LaFranier House, also known as both Blaincroft and Maple Hall, was built circa 1887 on a lot originally owned by beverage merchant Dugald Brown. It is situated in the historic precinct encompassing Bethune Memorial House (#16), just over the fence, and Finch House (#14) across the street. It is a one and a half storey Victorian cottage of restrained Gothic Revival style. Entrepreneur David LaFranier paid $1,100 for the property in 1896 after his hotel Fraser House was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1887. In 1912, J.J. McNabb, an accountant for the Mickle Dyment Lumber Company, acquired the residence. Frederick Freeman, a barber who had fought with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in World War I, bought the property in 1939 and renamed it Maple Hall. This coincided with his appointment as postmaster of Gravenhurst, a position he held until 1962. It remained in the Freeman family until 1991 when it was bought by Andrew Griffith who with his wife operated it as a Bed and Breakfast. LaFranier House continues to operate as such under owners Marsha and Bryan Blain, who acquired it in 2002.

With respect to its architecture, the brick building is sheathed in vinyl and has witnessed additions on its north and east sides. Its gable windows bring to mind the Ontario vernacular central gable cottage, which became popular in the 19th century owing to property tax breaks which accompanied the style. The wrap around verandah is another notable feature. The wooden ceilings in the living and dining rooms are also exceptional. LaFranier House is significant because it is representative of the brick buildings which sprung up in town as a response to heightened awareness of the vulnerability of wooden construction after the Great Fire, and because it is an integral component of its historic neighbourhood and of its association with some of Gravenhurst's most prominent past citizens.