Now home to the Norfolk Arts Centre, the residence known as the Lynnwood was built circa 1850 for Duncan Campbell (1802-1882). Born in Scotland, Campbell first immigrated to Montreal before moving to Simcoe or Birdtown as it was called then. Campbell arrived in 1818 to run Mr. Bird’s store. He went on to become Simcoe’s first postmaster, the agent for the Gore Bank and finally a Government Land Agent.
To design a home suited to his standing in the community, Campbell engaged Toronto architect Frederick W. Cumberland (1821 – 1882). Some of Cumberland’s other buildings include the iconic Cathedral Church of St. James, Toronto and University College, University of Toronto. For Campbell, Cumberland created a refined residence in the Neoclassical style.
Initially, the Lynnwood property consisted of four hectares (10 acres) of landscaped grounds. In 1902 J. Lorne Campbell, Duncan’s son, donated the area now known as Lynnwood Park to the town of Simcoe. The remaining grounds surrounding the estate were broken up for development in 1911.
In 1972 the Lynnwood/Campbell-Reid House was designated a National Historic Site of Canada. With its exquisite architectural features, the Lynnwood is an example of a Neoclassical house that achieves dignity through fine proportions and skillful use of classical motifs.
In 1974, after major renovations were completed by Norfolk architect Carlos Ventin, Duncan Campbell’s former residence became home to the Lynnwood Arts Centre. The Centre was a hub for workshops, artist talks and exhibitions. While the Lynnwood showcased the visual arts, there were also musical performances and literary events. Under the guidance of the first Director, Ellen McIntosh-Green, the Centre developed a permanent collection. The collection, which now numbers over 800 works, features the work of major Canadian artists such as William Ronald, Tom Hodgson, Alex Colville as well as significant regional artists.
The Town of Simcoe designated the Lynnwood property under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1978. The by-law, notes the architectural elements are of “exceptional quality” and that the “purchase and restoration by the Lynnwood Arts Centre is of considerable value to the community”.
In 2003, the Corporation of Norfolk County assumed ownership and responsibility for the Lynnwood Arts Centre. The Arts Centre became part of Norfolk County’s Culture and Heritage Division. To reflect its new community role, the Lynnwood was renamed the Norfolk Arts Centre at Lynnwood National Historic Site. The NAC continues to support and promote the arts in Norfolk County by providing a place to experience, interpret, exhibit and create art.