Friday, January 23, 2009

The Hillsdale House

Lately, I have posted some archival images taken by Charlotte Perkins. Charlotte was a writer of history and an amateur photographer in the early decades of the twentieth century. It is thanks to Miss Perkins, and a handful of other early photographers, that we have such a rich photographic record of Annapolis Royal at the turn of the century. I have mentioned her early life at the Queen Hotel but, I have not really mentioned much about the building she lived in later on, the Hillsdale House. The image in this post was taken about 1880 and features the wedding cake gardens which no longer exist.

The building itself is a two storey timber framed structure that was built in approximately 1860. A few earlier dates have been proposed through the years but these are probably inaccurate. This is due in part to the property's prior use as part of the military exercise grounds for the garrison at Fort Anne. This building is one of the best examples of Italianate architecture in Annapolis Royal.

The Hillsdale House was built for Susan Forbes Foster. At the time of her marriage to Edwin Ryerson, a strict pre-nuptial agreement was signed giving her complete control of the property. When Susan Foster died in 1895, the property was sold to the Perkins family (Charlotte's Parents) who had previously owned the Queen Hotel.

Never a second-class establishment, the Hillsdale House has played host Governors General, Prime Ministers and even royalty. As a young man, Prince George of Wales (later King George V) stayed here. There is even a guest book bearing his signature.

With the exception of the 1970s and part of the 1980s, when the Hillsdale House was a private residence, this building has almost continually been operated as an inn. Today, this is still one of the finest accommodations in Annapolis Royal. In addition to its ongoing use as an inn, the building is used for various community gatherings and receptions. For more information on the inn, you can check their website or their blog. Since this is such a pretty property, I will try to post some pictures when their gardens come into bloom.

All for now,
RGS

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