The Kingsholme Story
Kingholme's history spans most of the history of Kingsville. It was by chance that James King, a Cambridge educated school teacher from England, came to the settlement that now bears his name. He arrived in Montreal in 1829 and taught in a boys school for 5 years only to be driven from the city by a cholera epidemic. He moved his family to Michigan but in 1835 decided to move back to Montreal. Travelling on the Talbot road eastward through Essex county they encountered a severe winter storm. They came to a fork in the road and proceeded south on what is now Division road. They were forced to build a crude shanty to overwinter. In spring James King persuaded his family to stay and he became active in the development of the community, so much so that, in 1852, when the settlement received its first official post office, they named the village after him.
In 1858 having prospered, James King built a fine octagonal home known as Kingsholme, on six acres of land on Mill Street. A wraparound veranda provided shade and shelter in any direction. Architectural features such as double French doors, Tuscan porch columns, and a third floor cupola gave the home a gracious character.
The home was then occupied by one of James and Sarah King’s sons, Dr. Sidney King. As well as being the town physician, Sidney King had many commercial interests. He founded the Kingsville Reporter in 1873. In 1874 he led a group that lobbied the federal government to build a harbour at Kingsville. Along with a group of investors, notably Hiram Walker, he discovered natural gas and started the Kingsville Natural Gas and Oil Company, supplying gas to homes and industries in town and the surrounding farms. Seeing the resort potential of Kingsville he encouraged the Walker family to extend the Lake Erie and Detroit River Railroad to Kingsville in 1889. They built the Mettawas Hotel in 1891, accommodating 300 guests. With W. E. Delong he built an evaporator plant to dry area grown tobacco. A south wing was added to Kingsholme in 1881, and a west wing for servants some time later, bringing the total rooms to 22.
Sidney's son George King built the 900 foot stone wall along 3 sides of the property in 1924 "to keep his twin daughters in". He also added the in-ground swimming pool in 1927 as a 16th birthday present for the twins. In 1937 George's sister, Laura, returned from England with her English husband, Col. Frank Reid and purchased the home from George. Laura outlived her husband and all her children and sold the home to her first cousin's son, Walter McGregor, in 1963. Walter, a local attorney and decorated veteran, made many improvements and enhancements to the home and the carriage house until it was sold to the present owners, Jay and Helen Koop and Robert and Barb Dick in 1996. After extensive redecorating and renovations the home was opened for business on Valentine's day, 1997 as The Kingswood Inn, in the tradition of elegance and hospitality that were always part of the estate.