For over two
centuries Danner House has stood strong as a landmark of
historical and architectural history in the Niagara Region. It is one of
the only surviving examples of early Loyalist residential
architecture (also known as "Upper Canadian Georgian") to
survive the ravages of the War of 1812. Due to its position so close to
the Niagara River and the American border, Danner House played a
role in the many conflicts that plagued this area in the 19th century.
The house was
constructed some time around 1805, by Ulrich Strickler, who had moved to
Canada with his family from Pennsylvania in 1801. The Strickler
family home would have been directly involved in the War of 1812.
War losses claims filed by Mr. Strickler itemized supplies and materials
seized by U.S. troops in July of 1814 during their advance to Chippawa
and by British troops in September and October of 1814 when the British
troops were falling back from Fort Erie. It is likely that both
British General DeWatteville and General (Sir) Gordon Drummond at one
time used Danner House as their headquarters.
In May 1816,
Ulrich Stickler sold his property to Joseph Danner, who was a member of
the Quakers or Society of Friends and had immigrated to Canada from
Pennsylvania in 1807. He made a few renovations and additions to
the house, such as the narrow wing across the rear which housed a
"loom room". During the 1837-38 rebellion, Danner
House was once again occupied by troops as were every house from
Chippawa to Black Creek, a seven miles distance. Due to the
repeated conflicts, inhabitants refrained from raising costly buildings;
thus it seems that Joseph Danner's home was at the time one of the more
stately dwellings on the River Road.
In April 1847,
Joseph Danner sold his 210 acres to Jacob Wenzenried and George Wulz,
trustees of The Community of True Inspiration, better known as the Ebenezer's, a religious sect from Germany. This group arrived in
the United States in 1842 and settled east of Buffalo. Being one
of their first acquisitions, Danner House served as a base for the
Ebenezer's scouting of Willoughby for potential settlement sites.
It is believed that a group of twelve Ebenezer's lodged in the attic of
Danner House during the winter of 1846-47. The Ebenezer
community was very self sufficient. Among other things, they
manufactured high quality cotton, and they would have made excellent use
of the "loom room" at the rear of the house (it is argued that
the construction of this room could be attributed to them). By
1859, the Ebenezer's sold their Willoughby properties, dismantled many
buildings, bringing the timber to their new colony in Amana, Iowa.
In December 1855,
Trustees Wenzenried and Wulz sold the house to Elias
Sherk whose grandfather founded the village of Sherkston. Elias
and his wife Mary raised 13 children in the spacious house. In
1858, Elias requested that the Township council open the side road
between his and Michael Gonder's properties, which became known as Sherk
Road. In return, Elias donated land in the southeast corner of his
property to relocate the old River Church. In June 1866, it is very
likely that the Sherks would have witnessed Colonel Peacock and his
force of 1,000 militiamen marching south on the River Road during the
Fenian Invasion of Fort Erie.
In 1893, Elias Sherk
died and left his estate to be managed by his executors and eldest sons
Jonathan and Franklin. In 1898, Franklin purchased Danner
House and its 105 acres from the estate and sold it to Waverly Heights
Realty Company in 1926. The concession then became known as the
Waverly Heights subdivision. However, ownership of the land
reverted to the Township of Willoughby by a tax deed in October 1933 and
remained the Townships property until October 1961 when it was purchased
by John A. ("Bus") MacTaggart and his wife Mae after first
leasing it for 6 years. John MacTaggart, founder of the Niagara
Development Association and member of the chamber of commerce, worked to
promote business and tourism in Niagara Falls. He and his
associates obtained franchise rights to Tussaud's Wax Museum in 1959,
settled in the Foxhead Hotel on Clifton Hill.
John MacTaggart passed
away in 1969 his widow Mae remained owner of Danner House until her
own passing. Their daughter Jane sold the property to Rolland
Gregoire and Pierre Paquette who turned Danner House into a bed and
breakfast and were instrumental in the designation of Danner House as a Historical Home under the Ontario
Heritage Act. August 2000, the house was sold to Keith and Mary McGough who continued to operate Danner House as a bed and breakfast. In January 2011 the house was sold to the current owners Dave & Helen.