Lonicera Hall is a provincially-recognized Heritage Home and boasts a legacy that is an integral part of Charlotte County’s rich history. Built in 1841 by James Porter, a local shipwright, the house originally faced the river. Gilbert Ganong purchased the home for his new bride, Maria, and for twenty-seven dollars, a substantial sum at the time, had the house turned to face inland. As the story goes, this was to avoid his wife having a view of Water Street, now Milltown Blvd., and the docks. Gilbert also added the turret, balconies and verandas to the stately home.
Charlotte County and St. Stephen in particular, was a shipping hub in this era. The Ganongs, as well being business leaders through Ganong’s Chocolates and other interests, were hosts to many historical figures and privy to much of the economic and political development of the area. Gilbert himself was elected to the Federal House where he served with distinction as Speaker of the House, and would go on to become Lieutenant Governor six months prior to his untimely death in 1917.
The story of Maria and Gilbert Ganong is a love story. Gilbert and Maria grew up within five minutes of each other and went to the same church. The answer to how they were first introduced may lie here. They married in 1876 when Maria was 21.
Forward thinking and a generous philanthropist in her lifetime, Maria’s work lives on through the large sums she willed to charitable and educational organizations in Charlotte County. She also left sizeable estates to her surviving brother Edgar and sister Jeanette Belyea. Edgar himself was a founder and served as International Secretary of the YMCA. Three large stained-glass windows in the Union Street Baptist Church attest to her family’s active participation in the ministries of the local church. As part of Maria’s ongoing legacy, “The Maria F. Ganong Old Folks Home”, or Lonicera Hall is it known, was established in 1935 after her death in 1934.
We have come a long way since then. No longer an “old folks home” but an independent seniors’ residence, Lonicera Hall retains all the character and beauty of its era while boasting a modern blend of amenities and services.