The John Lingwood mystery house was tracked down in a matter of hours after my recent post on here and on the Facebook page for my film “Finding John Lingwood“.
It’s perched on the very edge of the city, at 2219 Ottawa St., S. Kitchener at the intersection with Trussler Road. Based on information found in the Lingwood office project list it was commissioned by successful industrialist and owner of Morval-Durafoam Ltd., Keith Shantz in 1967.
Mr. Shantz married Winifred McLaren (nee Fitch) in 1973 – a second marriage for both. They were renowned for their support of the arts as founding supporters of Waterloo’s Clay and Glass Gallery, establishment of the Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics,
the Keith and Winifred Shantz International Research Scholarship and other important contributions.
The home showcases some of John Lingwood’s favourite materials – field stone and wood. Also in the work, we see his commitment to complementing the terrain. This respect for the physical attributes of the building lot also shows up in the twenty Manchester Road houses that will be featured in the film (due out later this year). All the homes in this group have terraced lots. The houses are carved into the hillside with tall front windows that look out on a wooded conservation area.
Terrain also figures deeply in the Lingwood family cottage on Burnt Island in Georgian Bay – in the selection of the building site and the positioning of the cottage deep in the forest, where chunks of the Canadian Shield actually poke into the interior of the building. In the film, we make a return visit to the cottage with one of John’s daughters, after a 20 year absence.
In the Shantz house we see the influence of the great American modernist architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. The modest entrance is tucked into the back west corner of the house where you anticipate entering the expansive interior, speaks directly to Wright’s thoughts on compression and expansion.
The Wrightian influence is also present in Lingwood’s 1960 commission – the Carmel New Church on Chapel Hill Dr., Kitchener – another site featured in the film. However, he bring’s his own vision of materials and meaning to this design resulting in a building that show’s John Lingwood at the pinnacle of his architectural mastery and positions Wright’s ideas as sub-text.
The Shantz house and surrounding property were purchased by Stephen Moxey in 2012 after Winifred’s death the same year. Mr. Moxey applied for, and got, a permit from the Region of Waterloo to clear the trees from the lot in 2016. Links to news stories from the Waterloo Region Record below show how the work progressed.
Aug 3, 2016 – Kitchener property owner wants to clear three hectares of trees
Aug 10, 2016 – Permit to clear Kitchener woodlot approved by region
Oct 17, 2016 – Stop-work order issued for tree clearing at Ottawa Street property
Nov 9, 2016 – Woodlot clearing investigation continues in Kitchener
Mr. Moxey was finally given clearance to proceed.
The house now sits on the cleared lot – a little forlorn and worse for wear.
I stopped by recently to let the owner know about “Finding John Lingwood“. I left my contact information with the hope someone would contact me and let me know what plans there are for the house.
Of course demolition is a potential fate for this 50-year-old piece of Waterloo Region’s modernist architecture. It’s not possible to preserve every building from the mid-century nor does every building warrant preservation. However, this house appears to be a significant building in John Lingwood’s body of work and is also deeply connected to the business and cultural life of the community through its former owners.
It would be sad to see it razed.
16 thoughts on “Mystery House Found”
this is quite frankly my most favorite house in kw, I have been searching for information on this…..amazing…i too hope that it gets restored, I would love to see the interior
Wonderful work. I saw this house from the road a few months ago while driving down Trussler and was immediately drawn to it. It was unlike anything I’d seen in KW before. Strangely I couldn’t find anything that looked like what I’d seen on Google Maps. I’d almost decided I had imagined it until we drove past the spot again last weekend and it was there. Only by googling the address did I find this post which answered every question I could have thought of.
It’s melancholy to see that black-and-white photograph of the house in the 60s in it’s natural surroundings and compare it to the lonely mansion on an empty lot we see today.
I find it a bit surprising that this house and I’m sure there are others great examples – designed by John Lingwood or other studios of the same era – go unrecognized as “heritage” buildings. Waterloo Region has a rich history of embracing modern architecture, but it seems that seems to be a the expense of the recent past.
Let’s hope John Lingwood’s gem will not be razed.
If you’re interested in more about John Lingwood and his work, my documentary “Finding John Lingwood” has just been booked for two more showings at the Princess Original, Sunday March 17, 1:30 p.m. and Tuesday March 19, 7:00 p.m. I’ll be on hand for both shows.
Tickets available at the Princess or online at http://www.princesscinemas.com
I agree. It should ABSOLUTELY have heritage designation. It’s repulsive that the illegal de-foresting resulted in re-zoning for medium density homes. My understanding is that the trees were preventing that very re-zoning, much sought after by developers. So sad.
Has anyone found indoor pictures of this house? I’m desperate to see it.
My wife’s ex husband apparently did the masonry work on it.
I’d also like to see the interior. I have seen cars there and wonder if the house is occupied sometimes.
Is the house still standing? What did the owner do with the 3 hectares of surrounding land, I wonder?
Yes the house is there as of 2 weeks ago.
I have driven by this house for 30 years. I have also loved it. If there was ever a chance to see the interior I would absolutely be interested!
That is a stunning house. Best case scenario is it will be surrounded by 250 soulless, bland cookie cutter homes. https://www.newhamburgindependent.ca/news-story/9335458-250-homes-planned-for-ottawa-street-south-site-in-kitchener/
I may or may not have taken a little detour on my walk on a day not too long ago to get up close. There are signs on the windows about trespassing and there were lights on inside. I desperately wanted to peek into windows and see the interior, but I had no idea it was even potentially inhabited. I took a few sad pictures and feelings of exhilaration for getting that close. It really is a masterpiece. It’s built beautifully into the natural lay of the land, which is evident even with all the trees gone. It must have been so much more beautiful a space hidden in such dense and beautiful mature trees.
I fucking love this house
I have loved this house since the 70’s. I thought it had disappeared for many years when it was no longer visible from the road. I was thrilled to see it still stood and so concerned that it would be torn down. We need more houses with such character saved in Waterloo Region.
Is there any place to see the film you mentioned in this post?
Thank you for providing information about this gem.
Sandra: If you’re interested in seeing “Finding John Lingwood” please send me a message through the “Contact Me” form at the top of page and I’ll send you the information. I have DVDs or I can arrange for you to stream it. Thanks for your interest.
Its gonna be razed. Its on borrowed time as the other house (808 trussler) is being salvaged/demolished and this may not even exist anymore.
Its on borrowed time now 😢