The original 1795 house at 28 Prideaux Street was burned by American troops in 1813
during the War of 1812. It was built around 1795 by James Muirhead, a skilled army surgeon
and magistrate in the town. Muirhead is acknowledged as the "pioneer doctor" of Niagara.
The lots on Prideaux were considered the most
desirable and were allocated by lottery. Muirhead was a surgeon with the Scottish 16th
Rifles and came to Niagara in 1790. In 1792 he signed an address of welcome to Lieutenant
Governor John Graves Simcoe. He married Deborah Butler, the only daughter of the renowned
Colonel John Butler, at St. Mark's Church in 1795. It is known that Muirhead's original house included what was
probably the town's first "Apothecary Shop".
At that time the town's Courthouse was across the street from 28 Prideaux and as
magistrate, Muirhead would cross the street to hear disputes. As a doctor,
Muirhead was one of the first to offer smallpox inoculations and he administered these
free to the poor. He ran the field hospital during the War of 1812 where
General Brock was taken when fatally shot. Muirhead was a pallbearer in Brock's funeral
procession. In June of 1813 Muirhead was marched to Albany, New York as a non-combatant
prisoner of war. The march took 57 days.