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New life for stately old home

One of central Sarnia’s grand old mansions is being restored by a local realtor with an innovative leasing concept in mind. Mary Ann Raaymakers bought the imposing red brick house at 329 Mackenzie St.
Mary Ann Raaymakers stands in front of a home on MacKenzie Street which is being renovated and upgraded for senior women.

One of central Sarnia’s grand old mansions is being restored by a local realtor with an innovative leasing concept in mind.

Mary Ann Raaymakers bought the imposing red brick house at 329 Mackenzie St. in March and launched a $200,000 renovation with the help of local contractor Jordan Parker.

“This is a house with good bones, new plumbing, new electrical and a new roof. It’s spacious and most of the original wood trim and hardwood flooring is in place. But it was made into a triplex a number of years ago and it’s rough,” said Raaymakers.

She is tearing out the dividing walls, installing a new grand staircase and modernizing the kitchen.

“I’m making it a luxury residence,” said Raaymakers who lives in the neighbourhood herself and has a passion for older homes and interior design.

Initially, she planned to rent the house to executives moving temporarily to Sarnia with their families.

“I know there’s never enough of that kind of housing here,” she said.

But the more Raaymakers thought about the possibility of a high turnover, the more she considered the wear and tear on her investment property.

“I began to think about the high end finishes we’re doing and how beautiful this house is going to be. Then I thought about my friends who are of a certain age and ready to sell their homes but don’t want to give up gracious living.”

Raaymakers is now accepting applications from older single women with an eye to leasing to three who will share the renovated house as a single residence.

“I’m saying ages 50 to 75, but that’s only a guideline,” she said. “What’s important is that there is chemistry among the women. They need to live together and, obviously, get along.

“I’d be delighted if three ladies who know each other apply.”

The main floor at 329 Mackenzie will be shared space with a living room, dining room, library and kitchen. The second floor has two suites while the top floor accommodates a third.

The backyard is large enough for three private sitting areas, including one with a gazebo. Raaymakers intends to charge $1,500 per person per month, plus utilities.

Renovations are about 50% finished. She and Parker have salvaged the solid carved wood and a staircase from a former Presbyterian church in Clinton to add character and appeal.

“This house was built around 1900 but I’m not being religiously Victorian about the renovation,” said Raaymakers. “It’s a combination of modern, antique and classical.”

An open house is planned when renovations are complete, likely sometime in August. To get more details, call Raaymakers at 519-381-3109 or email her at [email protected].


Sarnia’s Nicole Kennedy is the manager of the new R & D Floral Studio, an independent florist located just inside the front doors of Canadian Tire at Lambton Mall.

“There was a successful flower shop here before and it closed at the end of 2013 due to a retirement,” said Kennedy. She has been in the industry for 15 years and worked at several well-established florists in Sarnia and Corunna.

The new owners of R & D Floral Studio are from out-of-town and saw a good business opportunity, she said. They hired Kennedy to manage the full-service shop, which opened April 15 with three employees.

“We’re very excited. It’s only been a few weeks and we’re doing well,” said Kennedy. “I think people were really missing a shop in this location.

“We’re working hard to offer friendly, small-town service and build on personal relationships.”

R & D Floral Studio is open seven days a week. Visit for more info.


Optometrists Connie Seto and Darcy Winch have moved their office to the former Zeller's plaza at 1249 London Road, along the west side of the shopping centre.

They have practiced full scope family optometry in Sarnia for 16 years and 14 years respectively.

“Our new office has much more accessible parking, a more centralized location in the city, and is 40% larger than our previous office,” said Dr. Seto.

“This is an exciting move for us and we are looking forward to being part of the new changes coming to the property.”

Both doctors are accepting new patients. Contact their new office at 519-491-1010.


Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or call 226-932-0985.

 - Cathy Dobson

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