Upper St George Street in Annapolis Royal has an impressive collection of architecture by almost any standard. While the large Victorian period houses are probably the most eye catching examples of housing in this section of town, there are a number of earlier buildings including the deGannes-Cosby House, Runciman House and, the topic of today's post, the Robinson House. This proud brick structure was built sometime around 1818 by James Fraser, Ordnance Storekeeper at Fort Anne. The house he built was for his grand daughter, Augusta Isabella Henkell, and her new husband Lieutenant George Robinson of the 60th Regiment. Retiring from the military at a mere 28, Robinson operated the property as a plantation style farm. In this house he and Isabella raised 12 children (six of each). I should note that one of the children born in this house was Augustus Robinson who, taking after his grandfather, Dr. George Christian Henkell, became a doctor. Dr. Robinson practised in Annapolis Royal until he died in 1926 at age 90. Dr. Robinson also served as Mayor of Annapolis Royal.
In our artifact collection at the O'Dell House Museum we are lucky to have to painted portraits of George and Isabella Robinson which were done in the 1830s. At some point, these paintings, and their cross Canada bus trip to back to Annapolis Royal, will become to topic for a post. If you can't wait to see the paintings, you will just have to pay us a visit at the museum.
I find the house itself impressive for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that it is made from brick while most of the houses in Annapolis Royal are made from wood. While brick does appear commonly in local foundations and chimneys, there are only a handful of brick buildings. I have always found this to be a bit of an anomaly since there were historically a number of brick yards in our part of the Annapolis Valley. We even had the Buckler Brick Yard which was located in Annapolis Royal itself. I suppose if you are making a product mainly for export, there is no sense in using it locally.
From the street, the house has all of the symmetry that you would expect to find in a Georgian Period house. The four central windows are flanked by sides which each have attractive fanlights. The roundness of the fanlights plays off perhaps the most interesting feature of the house, is its roof line. On first glance, this appears to be a fairly standard hipped roof with a central chimney. On closer examination, you can see that the front section is actually slightly convex. This curvature is very unusual.
All for now,