Woodchester Villa is currently closed for repairs.

Woodchester Villa
The Restoration of Woodchester Villa
A Pictorial Tour  of Woodchester Villa
Bird Family History
Bird Woollen Mills History
Location Hours & Admission Fees

Calendar of Events

Rene M. Caisse & Essiac

Historic Sites in Bracebridge

Octagonal Houses in Canada

Museums of Muskoka



The year is 1882. Henry J. Bird and his family have just moved into Woodchester Villa, their new eight-sided hill-topped home in Bracebridge.

Three generations and over a hundred years have passed but scenes from a century ago linger on in Woodchester Villa. Stepping through the entrance of Woodchester Villa, visitors will find their senses flooded with images from the past. The house, rooms and furnishings send out clues about what life must have been like for the Bird family.

That life was coloured by the character and style of Henry J. Bird, one of Bracebridge’s founding citizens. He established a woollen mill and played a major role in bringing pumped water and electricity to the community.

His curiosity and farsighted approach to life probably accounts for the building of Woodchester Villa. The eight-sided design was inspired by the writings of Orson Squire Fowler, a 19th century architectural philosopher. Fowler believed that the octagonal design promoted physical and mental heath. He also thought the shape to be the most economical use of building materials and living space.

Henry Bird incorporated many other innovative features into the house. It was the first home in the area to have electric lighting. It also boasted indoor plumbing, forced air heating, ventilation ducts, a dumb waiter and a speaking tube.

In 1977, the Bracebridge Rotary Club bought the house and lobbied to have it designated as a historic site. In 1978, they succeeded in having the house designated under the Ontario Heritage Act and transferred ownership to the Town of Bracebridge.

Visitors to the site are able to tour the house with the assistance of a museum interpreter.

Web Site Established September 2000.
This web site is designed, maintained and copyrighted by Woodchester Villa.
Woodchester Villa is located in Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada.