Abandoned Guyitt House in Chatham-Kent. July 2021. (Photo via Google Maps)Abandoned Guyitt House in Chatham-Kent. July 2021. (Photo via Google Maps)

CK's Guyitt House owner loses demolition appeal

A historic house in eastern Chatham-Kent, dubbed “Canada’s most photographed house”, will likely be coming down.

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent's Bylaw Appeal Committee upheld an order to demolish the abandoned house at 14793 Talbot Trail in Orford Township and clean up the property.

The committee heard an appeal from owner Peter Anderson on April 19, 2023 and issued a decision on Friday confirming the demolition order and issuing a new compliance date of October 20, 2023 to demolish and remove the house. The committee also "strongly" recommended additional protections to keep people off the property and out of the house until it is demolished.

According to a letter by the appeal committee rendering the decision, Anderson told the committee during the hearing that the matter should have been a trespassing issue and not a property standards issue. He also said the complaint was invalid because it was in the form of an email and was not a signed document. Further, he felt the enforcement against his house is unfair when there are other properties across Chatham-Kent that don't meet the property standards bylaw.

The appeal committee said the property was inspected by a bylaw inspection officer and an order was issued, rendering the original email complaint in August 2022 not relevant. The committee threw out the other arguments made by Anderson saying the property standards bylaw exists to keep all properties in compliance and for public safety. They also told Anderson trespassing is outside their purview and should be directed elsewhere.

Guyitt House owner Peter Anderson also told the committee during the hearing that he was considering a heritage designation for the property, but hadn't pursue it yet.

The municipality sent Anderson a letter in September 2022 notifying him under the property standards bylaw that he had 14 days to either fix the house or tear it down because of public safety concerns due to the unstable structural condition of the building.

Anderson now has until October 20, 2023 to either find a way to preserve and protect the house or fix it to bring into compliance with the bylaw.

When reached by CK News Today on Monday, Anderson reserved his right to comment until after he talks with his municipal councillors.

Ward 3 Councillor John Wright, who also sits on the heritage committee, previously told CK News Today that the home is beyond repair and it’s best if it just dies gracefully. He wants the property to be designated a heritage landmark (not a heritage building).

Anderson previously said he didn’t want to get stuck with what could be a huge demolition bill and would prefer to let it come down itself.

“All the photographers and all of the people who have shared videos of this place have actually done me nothing. I only kept the place because it was my grandfather’s and I didn’t keep it up,” said Anderson. “The compliments come from all over the country, but who’s going to be there when they send me the bill?”

The Guyitt House was built in 1845 and has been vacant since 1985. It was previously owned by Anderson’s grandparents, Roy and Ethel Guyitt, who bought the home in 1908.

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