Reborn: makeover turns triplex into late Victorian treasure

The single-family home at 329 Mackenzie St. following renovations. Glenn Ogilvie

Cathy Dobson

Purists might argue the Victorian home at 329 Mackenzie St. has been renovated, not restored.

After all, a kitchen that was nothing more than a tiny servant’s scullery is now a modern, open concept room incorporating the back pantry. There’s also been a few walls removed, primarily to provide a flow that never existed before, says owner Mary Ann Raaymakers.

But, for the most part, the stunning makeover of the three-storey home has stayed true to the original 1900 construction and returned the house to the way it was before being converted into a triplex years ago.

Raaymakers, a local realtor, bought 329 Mackenzie in March and started work on it with local contractor Jordan Parker. This week, house tours are scheduled to help raise money for Habitat for Humanity and the house is going on the market.

“For me, it has been 75% labor of love, only 25% business,” said Raaymakers. “It was an opportunity for me to use my entire skillset and put my designer/decorator hat on.

“I’m a risk taker and I love being creative. I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the right team,” she said.

“Apart from the kitchen, I believe this is a restoration,” said Parker.  He started his own business “Woodwork by J” about a year ago and hoped to take on major home renovations.

“This is a passion project, not a flip,” said Parker, pointing to the five stained glass heritage windows, the 10-foot ceilings on the first floor, six bedrooms, three baths and Raaymakers’ ability to take what is old and reuse it.

The original kitchen sink, for instance, is now a beautiful fixture in the third-storey bathroom.  The original claw foot tub has been restored.

Perhaps the biggest coup of the eight-month project occurred when Raaymakers was searching Kijiji and discovered the 140-year-old Presbyterian church in Clinton had its interior woodwork for sale.

Within days, Parker had stripped the church of its pews, railings, lectern and choir walls and trucked them to Mackenzie Street.

About one-third of the $200,000 renovation budget was earmarked for a new staircase, but that was cut substantially by using church railings and posts rather than new materials.

“You can’t fake old,” Parker said. “Finding the church made me so excited.” The kitchen ceiling was also built from reclaimed local lumber.

“I’d do it again, for sure,” said Raaymakers. “I never lost a night’s sleep over this, never had a panic attack.

“For me, uncovering the past, removing walls and finding an original staircase, those are the greatest moments.”

The community can tour 329 Mackenzie St. on Nov. 1 and 2 from noon to 4 p.m. Raaymakers is opening the house up with the help of Habitat for Humanity volunteers who will accept donations at the door for the local charity.

Jordan Parker and Mary Ann Raaymakers stand in front of the completed project. Glenn Ogilvie

Jordan Parker and Mary Ann Raaymakers stand in front of the completed project.
Glenn Ogilvie

The overhauled kitchen has been opened up with a ceiling finished in recycled lumber. Glenn Ogilvie

The overhauled kitchen has been opened up with a ceiling finished in recycled lumber.
Glenn Ogilvie

The staircase has been finished with woodwork salvaged from an old church. Glenn Ogilvie

The staircase has been finished with woodwork salvaged from an old church.
Glenn Ogilvie