In 1873, Alexander and Mary Jane Witherspoon bought two lots on Park Street. On the corner lot they built a cottage. The Assessment Roll for 1874 describes the building as a one story brick cottage with a value of $1600. At that time the house was only as big as the Education Room and it houses Alex, Mary Jane, and their four children.
In 1885, Charles and Martha Draeseke bought the property for $1600. Born in Jamaica in 1850, Charles was a machinist who came to Dundas in 1874, eventually working at John Bertram & Sons Co. He and Martha moved into the cottage with their three sons. After selling the house, Martha died in 1919, and Charles moved to Vancouver. The Draeseke name lived on at Bertrams, through their son Alfred, who worked in the draughting room for twenty years.
Dr. Henry Hempton Pirie purchased the home in 1912. He had recently returned to Dundas from Costa Rica where he practiced medicine and was involved in coffee plantations with his older brother, Dr. Alexander Fraser Pirie.
Dr. Pirie married Della Hughes in 1914. From then until Mrs. Pirie’s death in 1975 they welcomed numerous family and friends as guests, some for extended stays. They cared for family recuperating from illness, and opened their home to an orphaned relative, to whom they became father and mother. Their kindnesses extended beyond their family and friends to others in the community in less fortunate circumstances.
Their kindness and generosity is clearly evident in the Dundas Museum & Archives today. Mrs. Pirie was involved in the burgeoning Dundas Historical Society, and then in the Museum, taking an active role on the Executive after the sudden death of Graham Bertram. It was her generous donation of the land adjacent to her home that allowed the town of Dundas to have its own, purpose-built Museum, a remarkable feat in the 1950s. In 1973, Mrs. Pirie had her property sub-divided and the garden portion was gifted to the Museum for the Doctor’s Office. After Mrs. Pirie’s death in 1975, the Museum purchased the cottage in anticipation of further growth.