Monday, November 30, 2009

Granville Ferry by Night

When I was getting ready for our first night of Victorian Christmas on Friday night, I took a few minutes to step outside so I could clear my head. At this point in the evening it was a cool and calm night. This weather was quickly surrendered to a rainstorm which began just as the crowd was gathering for the lighting of the Annapolis Royal Christmas tree. While the rain may have dampened bodies it did not dampen spirits as the crowd were in a very positive mood by the time they arrived at the O'Dell House Museum.

While I was outside clearing my head, the view of the pretty little community of Granville Ferry once again caught my eye. Now admittedly, these are not the lights of Paris at night reflected in the Seine, but there is something charming about Granville Ferry reflected in the waters of the Annapolis Basin. Perhaps it is a bit more humble but this is not a view I would trade for anything.

All for now,
RGS



Friday, November 27, 2009

Victorian Christmas - Friday Night

Our first night of the O'Dell House Museum's Victorian Christmas 2009 has now come and gone. Despite a fairly heavy rain which started just before the doors opened, the evening went very well. We had a cheerful crowd who seemed quite happy to find a place out of the rain to sing some carols and eat a few cookies. While the candles and lanterns were lit, I took some time to run around the museum with my camera to see what pictures I could take. Since I am fairly tired at this point in the day, I will need to rely on the pictures to speak for themselves.

All for now,
RGS




















Wednesday, November 25, 2009

All Saints Anglican - part 5

Well, the frame of All Saints Anglican Church in Granville Centre did not come down as quickly as I thought that it would. Because of this, I was able to get a few more pictures. While I would jokingly like to say that this is a testament to the quality of the construction, I imagine that it has more to do with the size of the project. Mind you, I will take nothing away from the quality of All Saints' timber frame construction. The nature of this style of framing made it an excellent candidate to move and reassemble.

The dismantling of this church has been an interesting, if somewhat distressing, process. I am sure that those of us on both sides of the discussion have gone through a varied series of emotions. It continues to be my fervent hope that the loss of this structure will act as a wake up call to those of us interested in preserving the architectural heritage of our country. This should also act as a reminder to those of us (I am including myself) who are currently the stewards of heritage structures. In many cases there are people who are willing to help find alternatives to displacement or destruction. While there is no hope that we will save every building, we are short changing ourselves and future generations if we do not make an attempt to preserve our built heritage.

All for now,
RGS



Monday, November 23, 2009

Victorian Christmas Decorating - 2009

Today was a busy day at the O'Dell House Museum. Today was the day when the museum gets decorated for our annual Victorian Christmas festivities. For more than thirty years we have had a very talented and dedicated group of volunteers who arrive at the museum on a Monday at the end of November to tie garlands, swags and other wonderful arrangements. These decorations spread are out through the Victorian section of the museum. My favorite part of the decorations is that they are almost all either grown in the garden or locally harvested in the forest. The few things which we purchase like oranges and lemons are either eaten or composted at the end of the event. Now that most of the work is done, there is a strong smell of fresh fir in the air.

Through the years there have been some decorative themes which have developed. There is always a great deal of anticipation for the fruit pyramid. The version which is shown in this post is still missing its boxwood garnish. Every year there is a decoration which sits atop the newel post at the bottom of the stairs. Some years this has held a miniature Christmas three (complete with cranberry decorations) or a stylized bird nest with candied almonds for eggs. This year the newel post is sporting a somewhat abstract but very attractive arrangement. Just because I am feeling pesky, I am not going to post a picture of the arrangement at this time. You will just need to Come to Victorian Christmas to see it for yourself.

As for the other elements of Victorian Christmas, they are well in hand. By the time the event opens to the public on Friday night, we will have homemade cookies, hot mulled cider and there will be carols sung around our 1885 Annapolis Organ Company parlour organ. A new treat for this year will be the Runciman Parlour on the second floor. This room, which is filled with furniture from the collection we received this summer, will be decorated for a 1930s Christmas. The event runs in the evenings on Friday, Saturday and in the afternoon on Sunday for the next two weekends (Nov 27-29, Dec 4-6). I will doubtlessly have some additional photographs as the event gets closer.

All for now,
RGS






Saturday, November 21, 2009

All Saints Anglican - Part 4

By the time this post makes it to the internet, All Saints Anglican Church in Granville Centre will be no more. This collection of photographs were taken on Thursday afternoon while the workers were diligently trying to get their work done so that the would be ready for the arrival of a crane on Friday. As each of the planks which have lined the sides of the church for nearly 200 years fell, the workers let out a triumphant whoop. It would almost have been comical if it were not so sad.

While I was at the church I was struck by a certain irony in the current legislation which governs the export of Canadian cultural property. Imagine for a moment that we were discussing an 1814 painting of All Saints Church rather than the church itself. If this were the case, there would have been a very strong case to keeping the painting in Canada. Under our current legislation the Federal government may have even made a financial contribution to keeping the artifact in our country. Our current cultural property legislation was enacted in the 1970s in response to decades worth of Canadian artifacts disappearing from our country. To this day you can find Nova Scotian artifacts in the antique fairs and shops of New England. To prevent the further loss of important parts of our Canadian cultural identity, legislation was enacted to prevent the removal of movable cultural property. I am sure that when this legislation was crafted that they never considered our heritage buildings becoming movable property. In this way it is much easier to prevent a painting of an 1814 building from leaving our country than the 1814 building itself. I think that it is time to reconsider some of the legislation which governs the removal of cultural material from our country.

For the record, I would like to say that I am very happy for the people of Louisiana who have purchased All Saints Church. They have shown exquisite taste in their selection of this pretty little structure.

All for now,
RGS



















Thursday, November 19, 2009

Carrying a Torch

This was a different sort of day in Annapolis Royal. After all, it is not every day that the Olympic Torch relay makes its way down St George Street. The morning started with citizens gathering on the parade square at Fort Anne. In what was a well planned event, there was a ball hockey game on the infield, a cake, noise makers, a bagpiper walking the glacis, and all of the school children from Annapolis Royal filling the sidewalks. I must admit that the ball hockey game made me smile. It reminded me of an archival photograph which we have showing a cricket game being played on the fort grounds.

When the torch left the fort, it made its way down St George Street. They actually stopped the procession on the waterfront in front of the Bailey House B&B to light the next torch. This made for some interesting photographs. I was also able to catch an image of the torch as it made its way by the O'Dell House Museum.

All for now,
RGS






Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Preserving a Legacy - Sneak Preview

Our new exhibit, "Preserving A Legacy: Furniture of the Runciman Family" is coming together to the point that I figured I could safely post a small sneak preview. Believe me, this is a very small preview since, when it is finished, the exhibit will take up two full exhibit galleries at the O'Dell House Museum plus the landing at the top of the museum's stairwell. Due to the size and scope of the Runciman collection we received this summer, we felt that the only way to properly exhibit the material was to make use of the entire front section of the second floor. Even with this much exhibit space, there will still be a large number of artifacts which stay in storage in the carriage house (our artifact storage facility). Because of this I may change a few artifacts around halfway through the exhibit's run.

The exhibit is essentially broken into two sections. The first section is a recreation of the parlour from the Runciman House circa 1930. Perhaps a rethinking of the parlour is a better description since I have taken liberties in the placement of the artifacts. For me the highlight of this room is the table which stands in the center waiting for someone to sit down to a hand of bridge - a favorite pass time in the Runciman House. In the second section I have gathered an arrangement of items from the house. These pieces range from a wonderful spindle bed to Doris Runciman's academic robes. This is the room where the majority of written interpretation will appear. You will note that in these photographs the artifacts are still sporting their identification tags. These tags will vanish by the time the show opens. When we get a bit closer to having the exhibit officially open, I will post more of a background on the Runciman family and this wonderful collection.

All for now,
RGS

Monday, November 16, 2009

All Saints Anglican - part 3

On the weekend I had the opportunity to do a bit more research into the background of the soon to be dismantled All Saints Church in Granville Centre. Talk about your complex evolutions. For some time we have been using 1814 as the date for this church due to an inscribed cornerstone. While this accurate to an extent, a handful of toher dates could easily be used. Land was actually donated for the construction of a church on this spot by Samuel McCormick in 1789. Progress, it seems, was slow on the building. Despite a report in 1791 that the building was enclosed and the windows were glazed, in 1811 the local residents were upset. Bishop Charles Inglis wrote that the church "was in a very unfinished state. It is considered so much larger than is necessary and is so much in decay that the congregation are very desirous of taking it down and completing a neat building of smaller dimensions”. A deal was struck with Nova Scotia's Lieutenant Governor, George Prevost, that 330 pounds would be granted from the Arms Fund if the congregation could raise another 170 pounds. When I was reading that money came from the Arms Fund, it struck me that this was an odd investment considering that war with the United States broke out a year later.

Government money in hand, the construction of a smaller church began in Granville Centre. In 1814, Rev. John Milledge reported that the construction would soon be complete. Once again this was optimistic since the church was deemed to be almost ready for "divine service" in 1821. Finally, the church was consecrated in 1826.

The photographs in this post were taken on Friday but they are more or less how the church looks today. The windows on the road side as well as the stained glass window have been removed. Most of the wooden clapboard has been taken down and stacked to one side. The lath is now loaded in a dumpster or piled behind the church.

All for now,
RGS



Sunday, November 15, 2009

Victorian Christmas Preparations

I almost find it hard to believe that we are already back to the point in the year where I need to head to the woods to gather plant material for Victorian Christmas decorating. Wasn't it just a few days ago that I was putting the 2008 decorations away? No, I suppose that it wasn't. Those of you who are not from the Annapolis Royal region may not know about our annual Victorian Christmas celebrations at the O'Dell House Museum. Over the last 35 or so years this event has grown into a local holiday tradition. Thanks to some very talented volunteers, the entire 1860s section of the museum is decorated using period appropriate decorations. These decorations are made from things grown in the garden or found in the forest. When visitors arrive at the museum they are greeted with homemade cookies, hot mulled apple cider and carols being sung around our 1885 Annapolis Organ Company parlour organ. As they visit the museum they have the chance to chat with our costumed interpreters and see how the house looks lit only with kerosene lamps and candles. This is a fun event for everyone.

For the past few years Ian Lawrence and I have gone out to the woods to see what we can find. Last year we had a few problems because we had about three feet of snow on the ground by this point in the year. Thankfully the weather was good this year because we were joined by five year old Rhys Scranton for the first time. When we are in the woods our usual haul includes balsam fir boughs, three types of club moss, beech leaves, dried ferns, white pine, alder, and whatever else we can happen to find. Garry Freeman supplements these with Canadian holly berries, Bittersweet vines, boxwood, dried hydrangea and a variety of plants from the garden. All of this material is piled in the middle of the museum's entryway and somehow turned into spectacular decorations and arrangements.

You will note that we were all wearing hunter's orange while we were in the woods. Nothing spoils a nice quiet afternoon gathering plants like getting accidentally shot. If you happen to be in the Annapolis Royal area, the event is always held on the last weekend of November and the first weekend of December. As the event gets closer I will be posting more information and photographs.

All for now,
RGS









Thursday, November 12, 2009

Documenting the Derelict

As I make my way through the back roads of Annapolis County, I occasionally see a derelict house or two. Often, as in the case of the house featured in this post, I do not know the history of the house. At the O'Dell House Museum we do have the resources to find out the history but, sometimes this takes away from the romance of the property. The house will usually be sitting in a somewhat overgrown field. Weathered siding and broken windows are the hallmarks of this sort of building. Often, I feel a compulsion to hop out of the car and take some pictures. This is partially my desire to document the heritage of our community and partially because there is something charming about these forgotten places. These houses once kept families warm and safe. They witnessed all of the joy and sorrow of the human experience. It seems that the least that I can do is take a few pictures. As this blog moves forward I will try to share some of these images.

The house in today's post in located on the Bayshore near the border of Hillsburn and Delap's Cove (about 15 minutes from downtown Annapolis Royal). I have noticed this house many times but, about a month ago, I decided that I should get some pictures. The first thing I noticed about this house was how wonderfully it was sited on its property. The house sits at the crest of a hill with the North Mountain rising behind it. After parking on the Shore Road, I walked up the long gravel driveway. I quickly realized that, in its time, this would have been a beautiful property. While simple in style, there was a level of decoration which easily distinguishes this house from many of its contemporaries. The front entry is an excellent example of the details used on this house. The door features two vertical diamond style panels above a horizontal diamond panel. This is surrounded with sidelights and a toplight. The effect of the doors and windows make this a very pretty entryways. All of this is topped with a gable dormer featuring a wonderful Gothic arch window. The remainder of the windows are topped with a very attractive entablature. One last admirable feature are the end boards which have a carved design which I believe was once painted yellow. This adds a very graceful touch to the property. A window and an example of the end boards can be seen in some of the images in this post.

While I do not know the date of construction, the house shows transitional elements between the Neo-Classical and Gothic Revival styles. Using this as a guide, I would assume that it was probably built between 1800 and 1820. I suppose that it would be a bit simple minded to say that many of the original features are intact. From the looks of the house there has not really been a big push to renovate. For my purposes, this is a good thing. The house is an excellent example of the sort of building which would have been built in this part of Nova Scotia at the turn of the nineteenth century.

All for now,
RGS