1 Frank Place, London, Ontario, Canada
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|Address:||1 Frank Place|
|Neighborhood/s:||South London, London, Ontario|
|Middlesex County, Ontario|
|Year built:||ca. 1864|
|Additions:||An addition was added to the south side of the house in 1947 as part of substantial renovations to the building. A northern extension also connects the house to the main part of the church.|
|Major Alterations:||Some/mostly intact|
|Historic Function:||House/single dwelling or duplex|
|Current Function:||Religious/Place of worship|
|Material of Exterior Wall Covering:||Brick|
|Material of Roof:||Shingle|
|Material of Foundation:||Concrete|
|First Owner:||Richard Frank|
The Georgian-style house at 1 Frank Place has been part of South London’s history for almost a century and a half. The building was connected with the region’s pioneering period, London’s urban growth, the city’s role in the Second World War, and immigration history. Architecturally, it is an excellent example of late Georgian architecture in Ontario. As part of Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church, the house remains a vital part of its community and an invaluable legacy of London’s past.
The land currently occupied by 1 Frank Place was bought by Albert Odell from the Crown in 1839. Odell subsequently sold it to Richard Frank the following year. Frank owned the land, twenty four acres on the north half of Lot 25, Broken Front Concession B, Westminster Township, for over twenty years before building the current house. The exact date of construction is uncertain and conflicting information is given in local histories, but tax assessment rolls, directories, census records, and the house’s architecture make the year 1864 most probable. Frank’s family previously lived in a smaller frame home.
Richard Frank was a notable local businessman and politician. He owned approximately three hundred and sixty one acres on four lots in Westminster Township, although in the 1850s and 1860s less than half of this land was farmed. More important were his brickyard and sawmill businesses. Some of Frank’s unfarmed land may have produced timber for his sawmill. His brickyard business likely profited from an 1850 by-law allowing only brick buildings to be constructed in London’s commercial centre because of the risk of fire. It is also probable that some of the products of Frank’s businesses were used in the construction of his house. Frank certainly did well in business, and by 1861 he had a net worth of $15 255, considerably more than his neighbours.
As a local politician, Frank served as the representative of St. Andrew’s Ward on the London Village Council of 1843, a pathmaster in the same year, on the Westminister Township Council from 1850 to 1854, as the Deputy Reeve of Westminster Township in 1850, and ultimately as the Reeve in 1851. Frank was sufficiently confident in his position to describe himself as a “gentleman” on the 1861 census.
Frank was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1802. His first wife, Rachel Frank, nee Harper, died in 1832 and he subsequently married Elizabeth Frank, nee Pickering, a few years later. Richard and Elizabeth had seven children, several of whom inherited Frank’s land and businesses when he died in 1872. Mrs. Elizabeth Frank and her unmarried daughters, Ann and Elizabeth E., continued to live in the house until their deaths in 1891, 1901, and 1919 respectively.
A new era began for 1 Frank Place in 1920 with its purchase by Lt.-Col. William Gartshore, the vice-president of a major manufacturing company in London. He developed the land surrounding 1 Frank Place into the current Foxbar subdivision, and so the land formerly attached to 1 Frank Place contributed to London’s urban growth.  Gartshore never resided at 1 Frank Place, but instead rented it to tenants. William A. Shannon and his wife, Jessie, occupied the house from 1925 to 1941. Shannon was a successful local businessman, who eventually started his own financial company, Premier Securities Ltd. From 1941 to 1946 Col. William M. Veitch and his wife, Ada, rented 1 Frank Place. Veitch was a military engineer in the Canadian Army and from 1944-1946 he was also the City Engineer for London.  The Veitches’ presence connected 1 Frank Place with London’s involvement in the Second World War. In 1947 the Shannons returned to 1 Frank Place, this time buying it from the Gartshores. Extensive renovations were made to the interior of the house, which also affected the exterior. An extension was added to the south side of the house and the main door was moved from the centre of the facade to the southern end of the front (west-facing) wall.
Shannon began the sale of 1 Frank Place to Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church in the spring of 1957, although it was completed by his estate in the autumn after his death.  The church was established in 1954 to serve the spiritual needs of London’s growing Lutheran immigrant population, although the church did not have a permanent home until it acquired 1 Frank Place and a couple of neighbouring properties. In subsequent years the church built a multi-use hall, kitchen, and chapel. The second floor of the house is now rented as a private apartment, while the first floor is used for a variety of functions by the church. In this capacity 1 Frank Place remains a living part of the community, as well as a reminder of its past.