322 Simcoe Street - St. Andrew's Manse. Photo: David Hemmings.
This property on Lot 156 looks across the road to the front of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church; in early days it was owned by various persons who served as officers and elders of the church. The original Crown Grant was made in 1816 to Peter Ball, Andrew Heron, A. Thompson et. al., all of whom were prominent members of St. Andrews. Soon this committee transferred the land into the hands of Heron, an elder and benefactor of the church, and its official treasurer. Up until 1830, Heron seems to have used the land as a pledgeable asset to raise money for the church; it probably remained the orchard that was shown in the town map of 1817, and was under mortgage much of the time.
For almost sixty years before his death in 1846 Andrew Heron was a leading citizen of Niagara. As is testified by two memorials at the foot of King Street, he was publisher of The Gleaner, the local newspaper which ran from 1817 to 1844, and, as well, founder and head of the town’s public library. In 1813 he was one of the prominent citizens arrested and taken away as prisoner of war by the invading Americans. He is still remembered today as the husband of four wives, all of whom lie buried around his grave in St. Mark’s churchyard.
During the 1820’s, St. Andrews struggled to find the funds to rebuild after the destruction of 1813, and to find a strong and permanent voice for its pulpit. The arrival of Reverend Dr. Robert McGill in 1829 solved that problem; the dedication of the new church in 1831 crowned the recovery of the congregation. At this time, a manse for Reverend McGill was constructed on the eastern half of Lot 156.
In 1833, the western part of the lot bordering Simcoe Street was severed and sold to Annatje (Ann) Patterson, who would shortly become the fourth wife of Andrew Heron. The house was built in this period, and became the final residence of Andrew Heron, who would survive Ann and die in 1848 at the age of 83. His testament bequeathed the house to his daughter Mary, whose residence was in Bradford, with her husband James Muirhead Jr., a pioneer in that place. For many years the house was rented out to Richard Allen, a shopkeeper on Queen Street.
Upon James Muirhead Jr.’s death in 1867, Richard Allen acquired the property from widow Mary Heron Muirhead. After Richard’s death, his widow Jane passed the property to their son Thomas. In 1912, the principal of the High School, William Wright acquired the property; however, it is believed that he died around the time of World War One. The house remained in the Wright family until its was purchased by Georges and Helen Masson in 1967. The Massons have made extensive renovations to the house. They added a cellar to the east of the house and moved the house over it, about 3 metres. The house was originally L-shaped, but an extra room has been added by craftsman, Karl Banke, to complete its current rectangular shape.