This 10,500-square-foot St. Catharines home, situated on the southwestern banks of Lake Ontario, looks like a 19th-century English manor. But the mansion only dates back to 2000, when local businessman David Tausendfreund and his wife Lanelle built it from scratch.
David first bought the property—and the dilapidated 1930s cottage that came with it—in 1990. He always planned to eventually replace the original cottage. It had an unremarkable stucco exterior and a cramped floor plan. Worse, it was falling apart. After renting it out for a few years, the couple finally tore down the cottage to build their dream home.
They aimed to replicate the sort of turn-of-the-century red-brick houses once common in the nearby shipping community of Port Dalhousie, and loved the abundance of colour and blend of architectural elements from both the 18th and 19th centuries captured in the Queen Anne Revival–style homes that were all the rage in the Gilded Age. The Tausendfreunds designed the exterior with a corner turret, covered wraparound porches, red brick and elaborate white woodwork throughout. “Think Victorian, but with much more colour and intricate panelling and trim,” says David.
The six-bed, five-bath mansion was the couple’s home for the next 20 years, as well as the setting for their wedding in 2002. During the pandemic, they relocated to Lanelle’s native Texas and listed their dream home for $6.3 million.
David, who owns a window and door company called Tradewood, says the first step in building the home was figuring out the windows. “They’re usually an afterthought in the construction process, but we designed our home around our windows,” he says. David drew up patterns of brightly coloured small glass squares to outline the windows.
For the interior, the couple envisioned an old English manor filled with oak panelling, cherry floors and leather tub chairs. In the study, David installed mahogany built-in shelving and an early 1900s tin ceiling; a similar one can be found in the basement’s billiards room.
The pool table, a restored Brunswick Billiards original from 1890, is one of only six remaining in the world and is worth about $100,000. Unfortunately, the table’s not for sale: the Taseundfreunds are holding onto it.
To take advantage of the majestic lakefront views, David’s company manufactured a custom floor-to-ceiling window with curved ends for a specially designed viewing room. The window, which weighed some 900 kilos, was built from hurricane-proof glass. It was so large and cumbersome it had to be craned over the completed home to be installed in its place. “Even in high winds and bad storms, we could sit by the window without any worries and watch Mother Nature do her thing,” says David.
Out in the back, David designed the glass conservatory overlooking the lake, which is where he and Lanelle exchanged their wedding vows. More recently, the conservatory was the couple’s favourite spot to watch sunsets.
In 2010, the couple did an extensive remodel, adding an elevator to span the mansion’s four levels and doubling the size of the kitchen. The Tausendfreunds also updated the kitchen with modern appliances and a French Lacanche range cooker.
Upstairs in the primary bedroom, David surprised Lanelle with a brand-new walk-in wardrobe. The cinematic inspiration: a closet that Mr. Big gave to Carrie in the big-screen adaptation of Sex and the City, which the couple had watched together earlier that year. “I personally think my design is superior,” says David, who added glass compartments and an elaborate chandelier.
The Tausendfreunds designed the mansion to last them a lifetime, so they’re bittersweet about letting go of the home and all their shared history there. “We always used to tell each other that we’d be buried together here,” says David. “But we’ve moved on to our next chapter, and whomever ends up buying this home will create their own memories.”