Belle Vue National Historic Site sits quietly, facing the Detroit River just south of downtown Amherstburg. For 200 years, it has stood majestically as a reminder of a town and nation rebuilding after the War of 1812. Built between 1816-1819 by Robert Reynolds, the Deputy Assistant Commissary General at Fort Malden, it was also the home of his sisters, Margaret and Catherine Reynolds, whose landscape paintings provide an invaluable record of early 19th century life in Upper Canada. Their works hang in the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Windsor Museum, Library and Archives Canada and Fort Malden NHSC.
After the Reynolds family sold the property, the house was updated by three other families. William Johnston added the two bay window areas for more living space. Perry Leighton, known as an antiquarian, used one of the newer wings as his personal museum. The John G. Mullen family spent three years restoring the building back to the original style of the house.
During its history, Belle Vue served as a convalescent hospital for veterans who served in WWI and to whom we owe so much. Later, it housed the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church providing a connection to the community and continuing as a sense of place.
As a tribute to its importance in Canadian history, Belle Vue was designated a national historic site in 1959. It is one of only two buildings in Canada designated for its Palladian style architecture. The property has also been recognized by the Provincial (1984) and Municipal (1988) governments for its historic importance and for the Reynolds family’s contributions.
Belle Vue has been unoccupied since 2001 and placed on the Top Ten Endangered Places List by Heritage Canada Foundation in 2009.
Thanks to lobbying by citizens and the vision of the administration of the Town of Amherstburg, Belle Vue will continue to stand proudly on the shores of the Detroit River as a reminder of where we began and of the people who had the courage, fortitude and vision to remain strong in the face of adversity.