Windsor

'Beloved' Petrolia mansion used in scary movie shoot

A well-known Victorian mansion in Petrolia is one of the locations used for the film Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark.

The Fairbanks House was constructed in the 1800s

The Fairbanks House is a 22-room mansion. (Google Maps)

A well-known Victorian mansion in Petrolia is getting some big-screen action.

The Fairbanks House, also known as the Sunnyside Mansion, is one of the locations being used to film the movie Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The film is expected to release in 2019, based on a series of books with the same name by Alvin Schwartz.

Film crews are headed to the southwestern Ontario community for a few days for the shoot.

"Everybody in town loves the mansion, it's a part of our history," said Martin Dillon, chair of the Petrolia Heritage Committee.

The 22-room mansion sits on five acres of land, said Dillon, and it was constructed using oak and maple timbre from the area. The bricks were purchased out of Ohio and delivered by wagon, with each one individually wrapped in wax paper to prevent chipping or cracking.

The mansion is located on Petrolia Line between Oil Street and Barretts Lane. (www.petroliaheritage.com)

Although the Fairbanks House is in the spotlight now, others in the community have been used in film shoots before.

Dillon said his own home has been featured three or four times.

That kind of Victorian architecture is common because the town "did nothing" after the oil industry left, he said.

"There wasn't a lot of wealth in town anymore," said Dillon, "And a lot of our structures were saved because there was not a lot of entrepreneurship going on and the classic architecture and design in the downtown, and a lot of the private dwellings were just kind of left."

Even though the Fairbanks House is a "beloved sight" for the community, Dillon said over the years, the owner of the home has considered walking away from it or tearing it down.

"The family started to discover that they just couldn't handle this large mansion, a 22-room mansion is quite an undertaking for anyone if you don't have incredible wealth."

John Henry Fairbank was one of Canada's first oil barons. His family has pumped oil on its Oil Springs, Ont., property since 1861. ((Oil Museum of Canada))

A few decades ago, the home was used as a learning centre, and even a temporary church.

This movie will therefore be the most action the building has seen of late. The heritage committee would like to designate it as a heritage site, but the owner hasn't gotten on board.

"Nothing's really happened since the late 1960s," said Dillon.