Henderson Mansion – Thuresson Place (Perth Manor)
Thuresson Place – back garden
The Henderson Mansion, also known as Thuresson Place, Perth Manor Nursing Home, and The Perth Manor Boutique Hotel, has a history dating back to the late 1800s.
1878 Henderson Family
Jesse Thomas ‘J.T.’ Henderson, was the son of Jesse Henderson and Susan Eliza Thuresson. J.T.s father was a successful merchant in Belleville, and J.T. moved to Perth in 1859 to try his luck in business. At age 25, he married Elizabeth ‘Eliza’ Wordie, and they had four daughters: Florence Wordie Henderson (1867-1949), Jessie Mabel Henderson Stewart (1868-1956), Ethel Henderson Whyte (1871-1939), and Isabel Henderson Wilson (1875-1941)
J.T. Henderson had a natural talent for business and set up several different enterprises in Perth, and generated enormous wealth for himself and his family.
J.T. Henderson, grew his business and became one of the most successful Perth merchants of that time. He built a fine home at 23 Drummond Street in 1878 at a cost of 12,000 pounds.
“He named the home, “Thuresson Place”, in honor of his mother.”
Thuresson Place – named for Susan Eliza Thuresson Henderson
“For thirty-five years, up to the time of his death, he was one of our prominent and successful merchants, honorable and generous in his dealings with the public.”
Although the family was quite well off, and their was no economic reason for her to work, the second eldest daughter, Jessie, became an insurance agent in 1895. It was very unusual at this time for a woman to work outside the home, particularly in this type of business.
Nov. 15, 1895, p. 1, “The Perth Courier”
Jessie Married John A. ‘Jack’ Stewart
Perhaps it was her intelligence, business sense, and self-confidence that attracted one of Perth’s most eligible bachelors, Jack Stewart, to court Jessie. Jack was a successful lawyer, served two terms as Mayor of Perth, and also became a Member of Parliament. Jack and Jessie were married in 1907.
“After the marriage ceremony the wedding party returned to the home of the bride’s mother on Drummond Street where a dainty wedding dinner was served.”
“Mr. and Mrs. Stewart left for a trip to Virginia and upon their return will reside at the home of the bride which the groom recently purchased and is now having remodeled.”
Jessie Henderson Stewart and Jack Stewart
Life with the Henderson-Stewart family:
Jessie and Jack had an upstairs maid, a downstairs maid, and a cook. They also had a butler, a nurse for Jessie’s mother, a chauffeur and a housekeeper who came once a week to polish the silver. They also employed two gardeners who looked after the property.
Jessie’s Gift to Perth
After Jack’s death, Jessie Mabel Stewart, generously gifted the 10-acre park named ‘Stewart Park’,in memory of her late husband in 1947. In 1948 Jessie gave the the Board of Education of the Town of Perth eleven acres of land for the purpose of building a new Public School, which now is known as ‘The Stewart School’.
Jessie was also a Life Director of the Great War Memorial Hospital of Perth District, Honorary President of the Women’s Hospital Aid Association, Honorary President of the Perth Museum, and District Commissioner of the Girl Guides.
O.B.E. Order of the British Empire
In recognition of her public service, Jessie was awarded the Order of the British Empire,on June 29, 1935.
Jessie died in 1956 in her 88th year at her home at 23 Drummond St., Thuresson Place.
It’s been said that Eric Sabiston was like a son to Jessie Henderson Stewart, and so, when she passed in 1956, he was given ‘first right of refusal’ to purchase Thuresson Place at 23 Drummond Street.
Eric Moorehouse Sabiston (1897-1988) was the son of Alexander Sabiston (1858-1900) and Henrietta Moorehouse (1864-1952). He married Eleanor Maitland Pollock, in 1945, and they had three children: Elizabeth, Peter, and Cynthia.
Previously, he and their family were residing at 6 Alexander Street, in Perth. Eric, the President and CEO of the Brown Shoe Company, and his family, spent many happy years at their new Drummond Street home..
The Brown Shoe Co. in Perth, ON, where Eric Sabiston was President and C.E.O.
Eleanor Sabiston was very active with the I.O.D.E. (Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire), and hosted many garden parties on the spacious lawns of their Drummond St. home.
1957 I.O.D.E. Garden Party, at the Sabiston’s home. (photo: Perth Remembered)
Children: L to R: Demi Thompson, Nancy Girdwood, Elizabeth Sabiston, Peter Sabiston, Nancy Kelly, Richard Kelly, Johnny Stephens, Ann Stephens, Judy Easton, Denise Vallely
The Sabiston family sold their 23 Drummond Street home in the early 1970s, and in 1972, Catherine Doornberg converted the property to a long-term care facility, known as the Perth Manor Nursing Home.
September 21, 1972, p. 15, “The Perth Courier”
Catherine Doornberg, Owner of Perth Manor Nursing Home, photo: “Ottawa Citizen”
Catherine ‘Kay’ Doornberg was the daughter of Lt. Col. Edward Williams and Ethel May Lawrence, and mother of Helen, Ruth, Judith, Georgia, and Suzanne. Kay operated a number of nursing homes during her career, in Ottawa, Oxford Mills, Perth, and Carleton Place.
May 9, 1974, p. 7 “The Perth Courier”
In 1980, Phil Aston (1936-2015), and his wife, Gisela Krueger Aston, purchased the Perth Manor Retirement Home. They made improvements to the garden, and repaired the walls around the property. Phil was the son of James Philip Aston and Hilda Tyldum Aston. They had four children: Janet, Kimberley, David and James.
Oct. 27, 1982, p. 26, “The Perth Courier”
Phil was active in local matters, and in 1982, he ran for Town Council, along with Gerry McInnis, Dave Crowley, Orville Buchanan, William Armstrong, Jack Parsons, and John McLenaghan.
He went on to serve as a Town Councillor, and was Chair of the Perth Hospital Board. As well as owning the Perth Manor, he also owned Elmwood Lodge, in Ottawa.
Tragedy struck in the fall of 1987, when one of the residents was injured due to smoking, and later passed away at the hospital.
Nov. 11, 1987, p. 1, “The Perth Courier”
In the fall of 1988, local entrepreneur, Brian Carter proposed the construction of a four-storey, 115 bed, 85 suite retirement home on the site of the Perth Manor.
“Opponents say the development is too large, would ruin the heritage character of the street.”
Oct. 17, 1988, p. 8 “The Ottawa Citizen”
Phil and Gisela Aston closed the retirement home, and converted the nursing home into an inn.
“Phil and Gisela Aston, the owners-proprietors are a lovely, friendly couple who made us both welcome and added to our enjoyment by telling us stories of the history of the local area.”
Perth Manor, as it appeared in 1996 photo: Ottawa Citizen
Dwyer and Marshall
In April 2002 The Manor was purchased by Michael Dwyer & David Marshall, both from Toronto, and were known locally as “The Manor Boyz”. It was during their time as owners that the home was modernized and ‘brought into the future’, with the addition of new technology and state of the art conveniences.
Michael Dwyer (left) and David Marshall
“The Ottawa Citizen”, Dec. 19, 2002, p. 68
Michael and David restored, renovated, and introduced the concept of ’boutique hotel’ to the Perth Manor. They also provided Event Planning for corporate and special events.
During their time as owners they installed ensuite private baths with fine linens in all guest rooms, and direct-dial phones with private voicemail. They upgraded the televisions, and installed wireless internet.
House Tour 2006
Decorated for Christmas
In 2006, the Perth Manor was featured as one of the homes in the Perth Christmas House Tour. It was the first of many historic house tours, organized by the Perth University Women’s Club, to raise money for charitable causes, and showcase the notable homes of Perth and area, decorated in Christmas splendour.
The Perth Manor was advertised for sale in 2009:
“The Ottawa Citizen”, Apr. 4, 2009, p.32
Black Tie New Year’s Party 2011
In May, 2011, the Craig family purchased Perth Manor.
Gordon, Tyanna and Linda Craig, “The Humm” July 2021 – photo: Kris Riendeau
The Craig family members are quite musically gifted. Gordon and Linda played with the Kingston Symphony. Gordon taught in the Music department at Queen’s for over 40 years. These owners will be remembered for featuring some wonderful musical performances.
They started a chamber music series, and held jazz nights and musical dinners. They would pick a country or city, and Gordon created a fabulous six-course meal inspired by the location, along with a musical guest who played between courses. Gordon often sat in or made guest appearances with his clarinet.
Perth Manor – back garden in modern times
Perth Manor – garden arch
Perth Manor – sitting room
Perth Manor dining room – all ready for Christmas!
Perth Manor main floor sitting room
Many heritage features remain in this historic home – photo: Perth Manor website
Perth Manor dining room – photo: Perth Manor website
photo: Perth Manor website
Perth Manor Closed
Perth Manor closed, and has been purchased to be reverted to a private residence, photo: Perth Manor website
What Does the Future Hold?
I wonder who the next lucky family will be, living at the elegant Henderson Mansion, and turning it back into a private home?
Will they stroll through the summer garden, like Jessie Henderson Stewart did, admiring the colourful perennials blooming alongside the tranquil greens and the graceful framed pathways?
Perhaps the new owners will host spectacular garden parties like Jessie and Jack Stewart, inviting the who’s-who of Perth to drink and dine in this opulent setting.
For those of us who admire this priceless monument to Perth’s storied past, we can only hope that they will pause every now and then, gaze in wonder at this beautiful place, and feel the sense of history that surrounds them, at the gracious and stately Henderson Mansion.
To read more about Jessie Henderson Stewart, her remarkable life at Thuresson Place, and her lasting legacy to the Town of Perth, – the story, “Jessie’s Gift”, in “Lanark County Connections: Memories Among the Maples” ISBN 9780987 702647
The Book Nook & Other Treasures, Perth ON, Spark Books and Curios, Perth, ON,
and Mill Street Books, Almonte, ON or online: