Francois Baby House – 1956

Happy Friday everyone! Time again for another look back at Windsor through some old photos…

Today’s photo was snapped August 10, 1956.

The Baby house must have been freshly renovated, as there is no lawn, no shutters on the windows and the door is exposed to the elements.

Contrast the picture above with this postcard from a year or two later.


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Here’s the same view today, the house is boxed in by the Cleary and the other riverfront Hotels.

I wonder when and why the chimney’s disappeared? It kind of looks dumb without them, compared to the photos from the 1950’s…

The Baby House is just one of the 24 sites that will be featured on Doors Open this year, Sunday, September 26. They have said that they will be giving tours through their vaults, and a chance to see some artifacts that rarely make it to display due to a severe lack of space. Mark it on your calendar!

Have a good weekend, see you back here Monday.

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16 Comments on Francois Baby House – 1956

  1. IT would be nice to have that picket fence back up as well.

    The house is anything but anymore. It is just a shell at best. I would think the chimneys came down because of corrosion of the bricks but I am just speculating.

    Isn’t it sad that Windsor still doesn’t have a museum large enough to show our history?

  2. The house sure looks good without anything around it.It gives an idea of what it was like to live on that farm back in the 1800’s.The property origonally went all the way out to Cabana RD. Francois was a bussiness man. He knew many people of influence back then. The Indian chief Pontiac sent many nights on the floor in front of the fire place in the living room of that house.(before his attacks on Fort Detroit after the British took over))(Pontiac also used to camp out on Peche Island in the summer)Pontiac was friends with Francois Baby but refused to sleep in the beds at his house.
    The house used to have a third floor.The Americans burned it and raided it several times.They even stole the baseboards because the machined wood could fetch a high price.This was during the time when Windsor was being raided. Baby knew the comander of the fort in Detroit and requested to him to order the men to stop ransacking the house. The comander (I can’t remember his name)abliged Baby because he was maried to Baby’s daughter.I guess it pays to know the right people.
    This story came to me through a friend of our family who is a direct decendent of Francois Baby.
    The long grass in front of the house looks great thanks to the combined efforts of C.U.P.E and the City of Windsor.

  3. It’s an absolute pity that the Baby house is hidden behind the Hilton. I often wondered how many people visit Windsor and don’t even realize it’s there. Not to mention they have the most ridiculous visiting hours.

  4. It is a great little place though. I’ve found pictures where it doesn’t even look the same…well, that and its abandonned in those photos.

    NOTE TO ANDREW! I don’t know if you’re interested, or if they’re even still there, but the P&R department ripped those two old concrete posts out of the enterance to Jackson park. They were really eroded and leaning over….but they were original to the park I beleive.

    P.S. – anyone know when the city is going to put some lamps on all those nice lamp post they’ve laid out thru the park? It’s going on almost two months I beleive. I’m starting to think this is just more ugly art.

  5. Boxed in, suffocated, strangled to death. Get that thing outta there!
    Relocate it in old Sandwich.

  6. No, not those John. They were at the parking lot entrance. Guess I shoulda specified huh? LOL
    They’re probably only 3 1/2 – 4 feet tall. They had an engraving on the top of each.
    If they ever take that beautiful pedestrian gateway down I’ll be pissed! 🙂

    WIE….I agree but I don’t. Its been in that spot forever, I think that its cool that it managed to hangon to that location all this time.

  7. The fire that caused the loss of the upper floor of the FBH actually occurred in 1850 and was likely due to a fire in the stove pipes. During the renovations of the house (1948-1958) they found evidence of the fire on the interior of the house. (The discolouration use see on the bricks is due to bad colour photo (in the one image) and more generally to un-uniform brick coloration in the creation of the bricks. The bricks were also covered with stucco in circa 1853 by Edmund Baby following the death of his father, Francois. )
    As to the chimney removal . . . I have been searching for that info quickly in our resource and found nothing specific to the change from 4 to 1 chinmeys, except to say that the house went through a lot of transformation over the last (nearly) 200 years. When it was being “restored” in 1948-1958 they made educated guesses based on the evidence they had at the time, and also based upon the money they were able to raised for the work. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7ois_Baby_House (which is based on the book “Mansion to Museum: The François Baby House And Its Times” Written by R. Alan Douglas. This book as an exhausted discuss about the changes that were made to the house over 5 distinct stages and problems with said changes.

    This is argument for why the house should not be moved . . .
    More historical than the house itself, is its location. Even though the house was not restored to the 1812 period, you can say “it is from this location in 1812 that . . .” and the same can be said for the Battle of Windsor 1838. The location is key. Yes we have lost our river view, but that doesn’t mean that the museum can continue to use the location for education purposes. It is amazing how many people staying at the hotels stop in on there way to their car (they must walk by the museum to get to the parking garage!)

  8. Thanks for the info Heather! I was almost positive I read that it had a fire in the 1800’s but didn’t want to comment cause I wasn’t sure.
    And I agaree 100% about why it shouldn’t be moved.

  9. Really wish the baby house was restored back to original. It’s the absolute least the city could do for our heritage.
    Also, the Duff-Baby mansion in Sandwich. Much better condition than the Baby house downtown, but not opened to the public. It really bothersome that I cannot tour the Duff!

  10. D. Hand has his/her facts a bit garbled. Pontiac never slept in this house, which was built in 1812, at least 40 years after Pontiac’s death. He did however sleep in the Baby/Réaume house that stood on this site in 1763, during Pontiac’s siege of Detroit, when it was occupied by Francois’s father Jacques Duperont Baby. See Francis Parkman, The Conspiracy of Pontiac (1851); reprinted by the Library of America (1991), 537-38.

    The house was never burned by the Americans, but they did loot it 1812. The American commander was General Hull, who later surrendered Detroit to General Brock. He was not married to François Baby’s daughter, nor to any other relative of Baby, who was married to Frances Abbott of Detroit in 1795 and in 1812 their oldest daughter was only eleven years old.

    David Armour Doheny
    Great-great-great grandson of François Baby

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