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Development will rise around heritage farmhouse flagged for designation

1881 farmhouse linked to some of the earliest settlers of Waterloo County
This 1881 fieldstone farmhouse on Middle Block Road is recognized for its cultural heritage value and could receive a heritage designation.

An abandoned fieldstone farmhouse on Middle Block Road, in the Cambridge North Business Park, has been identified as a significant cultural heritage property and will be saved from the wrecking ball as industrial warehouses and a residential subdivision rise around it.

The home at 105 Middle Block Rd. was constructed on or about 1881, likely by Prussian immigrant Richard Gehl, who owned the property at the time, lived on Riverbrank Drive with his wife Rebecca Tohman and had six children.

City heritage planning staff will recommend the property be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act this week after a heritage impact assessment for an adjacent development identified its value.

Its architecture is a cross between the Georgian and Italianate design and materials, despite its construction not being representative of a high degree of craftsmanship or artistic merit.

It is, however, associated with some important local figures, including Richard Beasley, John Shupe and Richard Gehl.

The subject property is not included in a heritage conservation district but is associated with the Riverbank Drive Heritage Character Area identified in the Cambridge Heritage Master Plan.

"The house and property are indicative of the agricultural roots of Cambridge, which make it an important cultural heritage resource to the community," reads the report heading to the city's municipal heritage advisory committee this week.

It's adjacent to a new subdivision that would transform 129 acres on Riverbank Drive into a mix of 1,200 new homes and the iPort Cambridge development that's been approved to build various warehouses on three business park blocks in an area bordered by Riverbank Drive, Middle Block Road, Fountain Street North and Allendale Road.

It's expected future development will occur at the farmstead at some point, but the developer agreed to the designation for the house and sought the heritage impact assessment to support it.

Staff is recommending the committee approve the the move to designate under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act and if approved at the committee level will take that recommendation to council with an intent to designate.