The house at 31 Sydenham was built in 1869 for Priscilla Filman. The first tenant was Alex R. Wardell who lived there from 1870 to 1872. Wardell practiced law in Dundas for 50 years in partnership with Robertson, Wyld, Notman and Barton.
He contributed to Dundas military history in 1866 by serving in the Dundas Infantry Company, the only organization of military men at that time. Wardell served two terms as Mayor from 1868 to 1871 and later from 1879 to 1883 as well as Warden of Wentworth County in 1887.
In 1890 Colonel W.E.S. Knowles purchased the house. Knowles is famous for bequeathing, upon his death in 1931, a trust fund of $250,000 for the creation and maintenance of Webster’s Falls Park and the beautification of Sydenham Street.
Knowles also practiced law in Dundas for many years, maintained an office in the present day firm of Lee & Lee, and was Mayor of Dundas in 1894. Knowles was a prominent Colonel in the 77th battalion and the 129th Overseas Battalion during World War 1.
31 Sydenham is an imposing two storey triple brick structure with the solid balanced proportions typical of its early Victorian Villa style, best described as English Italianate. It is also described as having elements of the Second Empire, Classical Revival, and Georgian styles.
The façade presents the typical non-picturesque, if not severe, aspect of this style. It has a cubical shape with a low pitched pyramidical roof and three bay centre hall plan. Chimneys are both side and back built within the structure.
Decorative brackets supporting the eaves are important ornamental features of this house. At one time a Victorian porch sheltered the front doorway but this has since been removed.
The five windows on the façade are graced with a rusticated stone flat arch lintel and stone lug sill. The door is central set into the pavilion and surrounded by classical mouldings. Four wooden pilasters surrounded each side of the door frame. A split transom rests above the door consisting of frosted glass and set in wooden mouldings. The door has a single window with a rusticated stone lintel above it.
Ontario Heritage Act, 1980