Historical Waterloo

This past weekend, Waterloo Region opened its doors to historic sites for the community to experience as part of the annual event Door Open Waterloo Region.

The event is part of Doors Open Ontario, an initiative run by Heritage Ontario that connects communities with their history.

Hillcrest House, located at 73 George St. in Uptown Waterloo, was among the sites showcased in the festival.

This was the third time the building, illustrating Italianate architecture, was included in the event.

“We [participate] every other year, when we do something new to the house,” said Wendy Schuster, owner of the home.

This year a total of 603 people came to see the house and learn about its long history in the area.

The house was built in 1882 by Theodore Bellinger.

As Bellinger died shortly after its construction, the home was acquired by the Bean family who was deeply rooted in the heritage of the community.

Following the Bean ownership, Douglas Wright, dean of engineering at the University of Waterloo, owned it from 1959 through 1969.

In 1979, Wright became president of UW and acquired the home again, until it was sold to its current owners, Stefan and Wendy Schuster in 2001.

The Schusters purchased the home with the intention of converting it into a bed and breakfast, and their business has remained successful since its opening.

“We have three guest suites and we’re busy all the time,” said Wendy Schuster.

In turning it into a bed and breakfast, Schuster explained that she and her partner have been able to maintain the historical attributes of the home.

“We are restoring it room by room because it had been a bit modernized,” she said.

Their most recent project has been the restoration of the kitchen.

“It’s back to the height of what it would have been in 1882, with tin ceiling and big cupboards,” said Schuster.

The attic of the house is one of the next projects in mind for restoring the home.

This year, a historic walking tour was incorporated to the Uptown portion of the event, allowing participants to experience all the historic sites in the area.

“People like going into the [heritage designated] homes and seeing the old stuff,” said Schuster.

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