UPDATE – 05/04/2023:
The 1800s farmhouse dubbed “Canada’s Most Photographed House” will be demolished, after its owner lost his appeal to keep the structure standing. Despite pushback from owner Peter Anderson and members of the community, Blackburn News reports that the Municipality of Chatham-Kent’s Bylaw Appeal Committee has upheld the previous order to tear down the property.
As stated during the original publishing of this article, officials issued Anderson with an ultimatum in late 2022, after receiving an email complaint: repair the Guyitt House or demolish it. This caused public outcry, and an online petition was launched.
The old Guyitt House is not faring so well these days. Pics from Saturday.
📸 I’m at https://t.co/Z8cQhe5lfj#abandonedontario #guyitthouse #beautyindecay #urbanexploration #abandonedplaces #guyitthouse #decay #urbex #abandoned #lostplaces pic.twitter.com/RNhbah0FNk
— Michael Krahn (@MKrahnPhoto) March 27, 2023
Presenting his appeal on April 19, 2023, Anderson argued that, instead of being a property standards issue, the discussion should be one of trespassing. He also argued that the Guyitt House was being unfairly targeted, as there are other properties in the area that don’t meet current bylaw standards, and informed committee members that he was considering pursing a potential heritage destination for the property.
Upon his appeal being denied, the committee issued Anderson a new compliance date for October 20, 2023 and suggested he install additional protective measures to prevent individuals from accessing the property. He now has until that date to either preserve the Guyitt House or repair it enough that it meets bylaw standards.
Located amid the rural fields of Palmyra, Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada, near the northern shore of Lake Erie, the Guyitt House looks like nothing more than an old, dilapidated farmhouse – and it is. Its interior has fallen in on itself and the exterior appears close to collapse, as if a gust of wind could cause the structure to cave in.
While many might not give the Guyitt House a second glance, its present state and the fact it’s located along the well-traveled Talbot Trail have made it a popular tourist attraction. Over the years, it’s earned a reputation for being the most photographed house in Canada. However, its future is currently uncertain, following a complaint lodged with the municipality.
Built in either 1842 or ’45, the Guyitt House was purchased by Roy and Ethel Guyitt in 1908. The family had a long history in the area, so it made sense the couple would continue to reside where they were born and raised. Roy kept the farmhouse in tip-top shape, ensuring the brick exterior remained intact. He even put a grand piano in the parlor!
Along with the main house, the property also featured a cattle barn and tobacco shed, both of which burned down in later years. While additions were made during the 1920s and ’40s, the Guyitt House eventually fell into disrepair. The brick exterior was removed, revealing the wooden frame below, and the front porch was dismantled.
While they lived there, Roy and Ethel had two children, Isabelle and Earl. When Earl passed away in 1976, Isabelle inherited the property. She rented it for five or six years, before leaving it completely vacant in 1985. It’s remained that way ever since.
Isabelle’s son, Peter Anderson, eventually gained control of the Guyitt House, but doesn’t reside on the property due to its current state. He does, however, keep the grass cut, “in [honor] of [his] grandfather.”
Since the farmhouse was abandoned, the property has become a tourist magnet, attracting visitors and photographers from across Canada who park their vehicles along the side of the road to take in the decaying beauty of what once was a stunning cottage-style home.
Anderson likes that the place where he made such fond memories has gained importance with people he’s never met. He finds it interesting that many of them will purposely make trips to the Guyitt House, and while he’s OK with them doing so, he’s posted signs on the property warning visitors to not enter the actual farmhouse due to the dangers such an excursion poses.
On August 15, 2022, the municipality of Chatham-Kent received a complaint about the Guyitt House. While officials won’t say who it was, the complaint did lead a municipal enforcement officer to inspect the structure the following month. They found it to be in contravention of the existing property standards bylaw and ordered Anderson to either repair the farmhouse or have it torn down within 14 days.
Word spread among local residents and photographers alike, with Ken Bell launching an online petition aimed at saving the farmhouse. It garnered hundreds of signatures within its first day. Ward Three Councillor John Wright has even discussed turning the property into a heritage landmark in an attempt to preserve its legacy.
According to Paul Lacina, Chatham-Kent’s chief building official, Anderson has appealed the ruling, leading to the pause of any form of enforcement. He states the municipality “will not take any action until such time as the appeal is heard or if the owner decides between now and then to demolish the structure.”
Anderson has since come out saying he wishes whoever lodged the complaint had come to him, as opposed to going directly to the municipality. Along with wanting to preserve his family’s property for as long as possible, he initiated the appeal because he doesn’t want to foot the bill for the demolition. If it were up to him, he’d allow the building to fall down on its own, whenever that will be.