Canada’s ‘most photographed’ house may meet wrecking ball


Perched at the side of a country road near Lake Erie in southeastern Ontario, an uninhabited, partially collapsed 19th-century farmhouse cuts an eerily elegant figure against the wide-open sky and the corn, soybean and wheat fields that surround it.
Over the years, the crumbling house, near Palmyra, has become a destination for photographers such as Cathie Wright, who visits the property every month and has taken hundreds of photos of it, capturing it shrouded in snow or cast in the gray light of an overcast sky. “It’s got this dystopian charm,” said Wright, a retired professional photographer and graphic artist from Ridgetown. “I like toget the whole wide-angle effect of the cornfields going back. It adds to the isolation of it. ” But now, the house — so beloved by photographers that the Canadian news media has called it the country’s “most photographed house” — may have to be demolished, even though the ravages of weather and time have taken it most of the way there.
In a decision issued last month, a property standards committee in the local municipality of Chatham-Kent gave the owner of the house, Peter Anderson, until October 20 to tear it down unless he takes steps to preserve or protect it or brings it into compliance with local property laws. The news has devastated Canadian photographers who see in the house the faded grandeur of a bygone era in rural Ontario when farmers across theprovince lived in houses like it with wood stoves, wells and no running water. “I think it’s a crying shame,” said MichaelChase of Amherstburg, who in February took a dramatic video of its ramshackle exterior. “It should be designated as a historical site and saved to let it deteriorate naturally,” he said. “It’s a tourist attraction.”
But Paul Lacina, chief building official for ChathamKent, said the house, known as the Guyitt House, was “beyond repair” and in an “unsafe condition. ” One side has completely collapsed and the structure is “collapsing into itself,” he said. There is evidence that teenagers have been inside, drinking and lighting small fires, he said. “It could fall down, and if someone happened to be trespassing, it could fall on them.”


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