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Oakwood

Oakwood
Plaque no. 69
Date of plaque unveiling
6 November 2014
Speakers
Glen Curnoe, retired London Room librarian
Location
602 Queens Avenue, London, Ontario

Take a tour of Oakwood on HistoryPin

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History

The Benjamin Cronyn Junior family originally lived in a smaller house on the site of Oakwood.  Benjamin was the second son of Bishop Benjamin Cronyn, the first bishop of the Diocese of Huron.  Benjamin’s father-in-law was George Jervis Goodhue, London’s first “millionaire.”  George was born on August 1st, 1799 in Putney, Vermont and settled in the London area in 1820.  He died on January 11th, 1870.  As stipulated by his will, the inheritances from George’s $650,000 estate were not distributed until after his wife, Louisa’s death on August 1st, 1880. His daughter, Mary Goodhue Cronyn, used some of her $130,000 inheritance to build Oakwood.   The following excerpt is from the March 18th, 1881 issue of the London Advertiser:

Building operations – the contracts for the erection of large additions and alterations of Mr. Benjamin Cronyn’s residence, corner of Queen’s Avenue and Adelaide Street have been let as follows…Brickwork, Goldsmith & Garratt; carpenter work, Messrs. J.C. Dodd & Son; stone work, Messrs. Powell & Son; slating by F. Riddell. 

Oakwood was built from 1880 to 1882 in the Second Empire style.   The architect was George F. Durand.  It was built of red brick, which was later covered over with stucco, probably in the 1930s.  Today, the best view of the original façade can be seen from the west side.  The initials BC are carved into the terra cotta panels above one of the windows.  Another panel shows the date, 1881, in Roman numerals while other panels are embellished with oak leaves after which Oakwood was named.

Benjamin Cronyn Junior was a lawyer a mayor of London from 1874 to 1875.  Benjamin made poor financial decisions and as a result, he suffered severe losses when the Bank of London collapsed in 1887.  Other financial failures followed.  He and his family left London shortly thereafter.  He died in Toronto On November 20th, 1905 and is buried in the Goodhue plot at Woodland Cemetery in London.

Oakwood was sold to Frank and Louisa Leonard following the departure of the Cronyns.  The Leonards had three daughters and two sons.  Col. Ibbotson and Lt. Col. Woodman fought in the First World War.  Woodman was killed in action at Vimy Ridge on April 9th, 1917.  In 1930, Oakwood was sold to Central Baptist Church who converted it into a church and later built an addition which was used as a school.  In 2004, the church building was bought by Info Tech Research Group who received an Urban League Green Brick Award for their sympathetic restoration of the building.