The Guyitt House appears to be nothing more than an old, run-down farmhouse, and that is exactly what it is. It is situated amidst the rural fields of Palmyra, Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada, close to the northern shore of Lake Erie. The inside of the building has fallen in on itself, and it looks like a gust of wind is about to bring down the outside.
While many people might pass the Guyitt House by without giving it a second thought, its current condition and its location along the busy Talbot Trail have turned it into a well-liked tourist destination. It has developed a reputation as Canada’s most photographed home over the years. But because of a complaint to the city government, its future is uncertain right now.
Roy and Ethel Guyitt acquired the Guyitt House in 1908; it was possibly built in 1842 or ’45. It was made obvious that the couple would stay in the neighborhood where they were born and raised because their family had a lengthy history there. Roy made sure the brick facade of the farmhouse stayed intact and kept it in good condition. He even added a grand piano to the living room.
The property included a tobacco shed and a cow barn in addition to the main house, both of which burned down later. The Guyitt House underwent renovations in the 1920s and 1940s but finally fell into ruin. The front porch was taken apart and the brick facade removed, exposing the wooden frame below.
Roy and Ethel had two kids there while they were residents: Earl and Isabelle. Upon Earl’s death in 1976, Isabelle received the property as her inheritance. She rented it out for about five or six years before abandoning it entirely in 1985. Since then, it has not changed.
Isabelle’s son, Peter Anderson, later took possession of the Guyitt House, albeit he no longer resides there because of its current status. However, he maintains a mowed lawn “in [honor] of [his] grandfather.”
Since the farmhouse was abandoned, the area has grown to be a popular destination for tourists and photographers from across Canada, who park their cars by the roadside to admire the deteriorating beauty of what was once a gorgeous cottage-style home.
Anderson appreciates that the location holds significance for people he has never met. It is a place where he has many happy memories. He thinks it’s amusing that many of them make journeys to the Guyitt House on purpose, and while he’s fine with them doing so, he’s put up signs on the property cautioning tourists from going inside the real farmhouse because of the risks such a venture presents.
The Guyitt House was the subject of a complaint that was delivered to the Chatham-Kent municipality on August 15, 2022. The allegation did prompt a municipal enforcement officer to inspect the building the next month, though officials won’t reveal who it was. They said that it was against the current property standards bylaw, so they gave Anderson 14 days to fix the farmhouse or make plans for it to be torn down.
After word got out to both locals and photographers, Ken Bell started an internet campaign to save the farmhouse. It currently has over 3,600 signatures after collecting hundreds on its first day. In an effort to preserve the property’s past, current Ward Three Councilor John Wright has even brought up the idea of making it a heritage marker.
Anderson has appealed the decision, according to Paul Lacina, Chatham-Kent’s building official, which has halted any enforcement efforts. He claims that until the appeal is heard or if the owner decides to demolish the building before then, the municipality “will not take any action.”
Since then, Anderson has stated that he wishes the person who filed the complaint had approached him rather than the municipality. He filed the appeal in order to avoid having to pay for the demolition as well as to protect his family’s property for as long as possible. If it were up to him, he would wait for the building to collapse when it was ready to do so.
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