Today, we share Heritage Thorold's significant history behind the Grenville House, built around 1856 at 7 Queen St. S. Tomorrow, we will reveal details of its new owners' painstaking efforts to restore the home to its former glory.
The rich story of the Grenville family indicates that this home is historically significant. The Grenvilles were involved in Thorold both politically and through their entrepreneurship.
The house, of classical Revival style with the L-shape drawn from Gothic Revival, was built about 1856. It was originally built for Thomas Spinks, a native of Ireland. The first Grenvilles to settle in Thorold were Daniel Sorby Crenville (from England), born 1788, and his wife Anne Maria Bouman (from New Jersey, whose family were United Empire Loyalists). Anne Maria's father served with Butler's Rangers and Daniel was a gunner during the War of 1812. Daniel and Anne Maria assisted settlers in 1812 during the American invasion.
In 1871, John and Thomas Grenville assumed ownership of 7 Queen St. S. They were partners in a blacksmith and carriage business and erected the large three-storey stone building on Albert Street, known as Grenville Hall, which housed the carriage business. The upper story of Grenville Hall was used as a meeting place by many lodges, as well as the Presbyterians before constructing their first brick church on Ormond Street. John Grenville served as Ensign to Lieutenant of the 1st Battalion in 1862.
He was a member of Council when the village of Thorold was incorporated into a town in 1875, and became the first Reeve, serving in this capacity again in 1877. He was elected Mayor in l879-80, and served as postmaster for 12 years. Although rejected by the government of the day, his proposal of the Grenville route for the Welland Canal from Allanburgh to the mountain brow west of Thorold (which would have led it to Port Dalhousie in almost a straight line), gave him prominence beyond Thorold.
John and his wife Mercy Ett Wheeler had six children; his son Walter worked for Sir W.F. Howland of the Welland Mills. Walter later started an asbestos and wallboard business in Thorold, served on Council for four years, as Reeve for three, and as Thorold's tax collector and assessor for two years. Another son, Thomas, was a painter and partner with A.T. Stanley in the firm Stanley and Grenville, located on Albert Street.
John D. Grenville was named Master Workman for the Summit Lodge. His son Charles fought in W.W.I with the 86th machine gun section and was killed at age 28 at Vimy Ridge. May Grenville served as a nurse overseas; she received a medal for her work at Verdun. In 1933, during the depression, May came home and started a knitting business that grew into a large enterprise. The Mail and Empire newspaper, Toronto and the Monarch Knitting Co. recognized her. The house remained in the Grenville family until 1981; in 1993 it was sold.