The Sangster house at 6130 Main St. is an iconic building in the downtown core that has served the community of Whitchurch-Stouffville for many years—much like the family which once inhabited it.
The Sangster family came to Stouffville area from England in 1830s. John Sangster, with his wife Jane, had a farm near the hamlet of Lincolnville. He operated a small willow furniture factory, and also kept a bakeshop and operated a hotel in the hamlet.
There were six children born to John and Jane, including Robert Taylor and John Herbert. Robert married Laura Rusnell, which whom he had ten children. He was the father of the famous “quintet” of doctors: Of the seven boys, two became doctors and two became dentists and Bert Sangster rounded out the quintet becoming a dental surgeon in Michigan. They also had a son who became a lawyer.
This double house at 6130 was built in 1885, for Robert Taylor Sangster, when he retired. It was part of Plan 35, lots four and 12, which went through to Second St.
This solid brick home, the wooden barn and the large brick barn near the ear of the lot (now a private home) were constructed at a cost of $4,400. It remained in the Sangster family until 1944—a period of 58 years.
Sangster brothers Walter and Alex, both doctors, practiced in Stouffville with their offices likely in the brick addition at the back of the house built c. 1895. The dentists, however, moved to Michigan and the lawyer, Frank, went to northern Ontario.
Dr. Walter Alfred Sangster was beloved by many people of the village having spent all of his active life in the service of the people of Stouffville and its countryside. In addition to his medical practice, after graduating, he established the Market Drug Store in 1891. This was located in what is known as the Merten’s Block of buildings in what is now approximately at 6276 Main St. today
In addition to his medical work, he served the village for many years as its reeve – what would today be the mayor. His terms were 1906, 1907 and again in 1913 – 1916. Part of what he created during this time period is a well used part of today’s town. As a mark of his affection for his village, he bought and donated all the westerly lands for Memorial Park, known now as “Sangster’s Grove”.
In 1945, the house at 6130 Main St. became a quadraplex. It was owned and in part occupied by H.W. Klinck. Eventually it was made to contain eight to nine apartments with renters who, over the years, were sometimes described as questionable characters. Presently this two and half storey red brick building is a beautifully restored house used for professional offices.
The architecture is unique with two winged bays sitting either side of a center glass, second storey, sun room. The roman arched windows are part of the original design, which has been retained. Missing is some of the gingerbread trim from the main peak and the kingposts. However, some of it remains which showcases the winged bays. The fluted columns on the brick bases are a change from the original, which featured turned posts and a decorative frieze over the front porch.
After a current major renovation, it is back in the great shape of the past glory. This home was a feature for Doors Open in 2011 and will be this year as well. The adaptive re-use of a heritage building saves a landmark and an important part of town history.