Amazing ‘Silo House’ goes against the grain

The “Silo Home” of Patti and Doug Grant in Bright’s Grove is sometimes mistaken for a lighthouse. Glenn Ogilvie

George Mathewson

One of Sarnia’s funkiest homes is also one of its oldest structures.

The “Silo House” in Bright’s Grove is four floors of handcrafted originality packed into a converted grain silo built in 1842 for the community’s first farm.

“When people first see it they love it because it’s so strange,” said Patti Grant, who bought the silo and its attached home with husband Doug in 2007.

“But when you want a beer you have to run up to the third floor,” she added. “I lost 10 pounds the first month I was here.”

The heart of the silo home is a circular iron staircase salvaged from a burned Petrolia church in the 1940s by the Braybrook family, who converted the structure to habitable space.

The ground floor is the living room. The stairs – all 44 of them – lead up to a bathroom and bedroom on the second floor, and above that to the kitchen.

Everything, from the oddball-sized bed to the cupboards and drawers, are custom-fit for the curved walls.

The fridge and stove were installed in the 1970s, and how the movers got them up the tight stairwell is anybody’s guess, Grant says.

“I don’t know how they did it. It’s a puzzle. But they still work.”

The silo was built to store grain grown on the original Lake Huron land tract granted to Maxwell commune founder Henry Jones, and stands today at the intersection of Brigden and Hamilton roads.

The farm, Westwinds, belonged to Jones’ son, and though the farmhouse and fields are long gone the silo endures, said Grant, who is herself the grand daughter of Wilfred Hamilton, the Bright’s Grove landowner for whom Hamilton Road is named.

Rising up 55 feet and made of poured concrete a foot-and-a-half thick, it withstood two tornadoes and countless lake storms over 172 years.

Gawkers sometimes mistake it for a lighthouse because the fourth and uppermost level is a glass-enclosed observatory.

The top room is furnished in curving “majilas,” traditional Bedouin floor seats custom made in Qatar, where the Grants lived for 10 years.

In fact, when they bought the home long-distance from the Persian Gulf state, “the rumour went around the Grove it had been bought by Arabs,” Grant said.

In the winter, with the leaves down, the observatory’s windows offer a stunning panoramic view of Lake Huron.

“We love to sit up here then, have a glass of wine, put some music on, and just enjoy it,” she said.

The kitchen cupboards and counter are custom built to match the home's curving walls. Glenn Ogilvie

The kitchen cupboards and counter are custom built to match the home’s curving walls.
Glenn Ogilvie

 

The top-level observatory is decorated with finds from the Grants world travels. Glenn Ogilvie

The top-level observatory is decorated with finds from the Grants world travels.
Glenn Ogilvie