Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Another Faded Beauty

For a number of years I have watched one particular house when I drive between Annapolis Royal and Bridgetown on Highway 201. Now, anyone who has driven this stretch of road will tell you that there are a number of very attractive heritage houses which are worth noticing. The house which keeps getting my attention is a grand old structure in the community of Centrelea. Last week I was working on a project which had me taking some photographs at the property beside this house. When I was finished I decided to take a trip next door to see if I could get a few images of a building which I admire.

I have included this post in my documenting derelict heritage category but this may be a bit unfair for this particular property. While the house is clearly not lived in it is getting some basic upkeep. The lawn is mowed, the windows are intact and there is a good roof on the house. I am not all that clear on the story but I believe that the house is part of a family dispute. Currently this building is not in as much trouble as many of the derelict buildings I have photographed in the past. This being said, it still has a faded glory which I find appealing.

From the road the first things you notice about this house are the size and symmetry. This is an excellent example of a two-storey Georgian Neo-Classical Style House. The symmetrical placement of the windows around a central door are hallmarks of this style. Another typical element in this style of house are the low hanging eaves which, in this case, almost cover the top two inches of the windows. Judging solely by the style of the house, I would place the date of the building around 1800 or before. Somewhere within the foggy reaches of my memory I can remember someone telling me that the house was dated around 1820 but this seems late to me.

There is very little decoration on this house. The door is topped by an entablature which is supported by a simple pediment on either side. This is a very pretty feature which adds some formality to the entrance. While there is a storm door on the house I am willing to guess that that there is probably a fanlight at the top of the door. The curved top of the storm door seems to fit the general shape of a fanlight. This fanlight would have added light to the central hallway of the house. The windows have no elaboration in their design. Interestingly, most of the windows are the original six over six wooden sash windows. There are a few instances where two over two sashes have replaced the originals. The other dominant feature is the central brick chimney. This was almost undoubtedly made with locally made bricks.

As I was looking at the house, one of the features which caught my eye was an addition to one of the storm windows. At the bottom of the window was a small panel which could be lifted. We have a storm window like this at the O'Dell House Museum. The purpose of this panel is to permit the residents of the house to allow a small amount of fresh air into the house on fine days. If the weather was cold and storming, the panel would be kept closed. Another feature on the western side of the house were the nails used to hold the wooden clapboard in place. Rosehead nails of this sort were hand forged by a blacksmith and give a good idea as to how long the siding has been on the house.

When I was walking away from the house I noticed something which gave this quiet old property a great deal of humanity. Leaning up against an old apple tree was a metal ladder. I wonder how many family members came out the back door to grab an apple off the tree before heading to the fields. How many dinners were finished with a pie made from the fruit of this tree? Were these apples cut into rings and dried for winter or were they eaten fresh with a random trickle of juice running down a child's chin?

All for now,

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely home! I spend a lot of time trolling the real estate sites for properties in your area and I always wonder about some of the grand old dames that sit empty and unsold. Of course there are dozens more like this one not even listed for sale which I only get to see when someone like you shares thank you! I imagine all the stories each of the homes could tell and what they must have been like when a family filled their rooms.

    One of my favorites is the Willett House in Granville Ferry - I've read the little tidbits on the heritage buildings site but I sure wish there was more of the story available for that place...if it's still empty and for sale when we're ready to move it will be a serious contender for us. For now, when I daydream about where we'll live when we move the Willett House property is usually the back-drop.

    - Adele