Description of Historic Place
1606 Bell Road is an elegant two-storey brick building situated on the corner of Bell Road and Sackville Street, a busy intersection in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia. Facing the intersection, the house is situated a short distance from the Public Gardens on a small lot with several mature trees and shrubs. The building and property are located in the municipal heritage designation.
1606 Bell Road is valued for its association with Public Gardens’ superintendent Richard Power and Halifax architect James Charles Dumaresq; and for its uncommon mix of Queen Anne Revival and Classical Revival architecture.
Constructed between 1902 and 1903, the building was originally a residence for the superintendent of the Public Gardens (a large public formal garden), replacing the former residence that had been condemned. The first superintendent to occupy this house was Richard Power, who had been superintendent of the Gardens since 1872. He had gained landscape design experience at Central Park in New York City and the Duke of Devonshire’s estate in Lismore, Ireland. Power is credited for the layout and design of the Public Gardens, transforming the space into an important city landmark and destination for Halifax citizens and visitors. The building now serves as office space for Garden staff.
The house was designed by architect James Charles Dumaresq. In his distinguished career, Dumaresq produced many venerable properties in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, including the Presbyterian Church at Great Village (1883) and the Parliament Building (1880) in Fredericton. In Halifax, he designed the Poplar Grove Church (1883) and the Saint Mary’s Glebe House, as well as several commercial buildings on Barrington Street, including the G.M. Smith building (1893), the Saint Paul’s Building and the Wright Building (1896).
Architecturally, the house showcases a mix of Queen Anne Revival and Classical Revival features. It is rare to find a brick house in Nova Scotia in the Queen Anne Revival style—most are wooden. Its Queen Anne Revival features include the use of Palladian-style windows, prominent dormers, pedimented rear gable end and patterned shingles on the dormers. Its Classic Revival details include the cornice, and columns on the gables and front entrance.
Source: HRM Community Development Department, Heritage Property Program, 1606 Bell Road file.
The character-defining elements of 1606 Bell Road include:
- proximity to Public Gardens;
- two-storey structure with square plan, steep hipped roof, and projecting dormers and bays on all four sides;
- Dutch gable dormers with curved and stepped parapets that project above the adjacent roof;
- brick cladding with wood and metal trim;
- plain roofline cornice and moulded frieze;
- plain moulded belt course between first and second storeys;
- patterned, multi-coloured brickwork on basement level, topped with stone plinth course;
- central brick chimney;
- rear elevation with two-storey pedimented bay.
The character-defining elements of the front elevation of 1606 Bell Road include:
- symmetrical front façade;
- ornate central entrance with flared wooden steps and railings leading up to a semi-circular stoop and entrance door with transom window;
- second storey, semi-circular oriel window/circular tower with thin, fluted columns;
- central tower with three mullioned windows, bell cast profile below window sills, vertical panels above windows culminating in a moulded cornice; each level defined by moulded stringcourses;
- bay windows/Dutch gable dormers flank central tower;
- first floor tapered bay windows with triple mullioned windows and rectangular moulded panels above;
- second storey dormers with double mullioned windows and semi-circular panelled transoms, fluted columns with conical tops trimming the sides of the dormers and Dutch gables capped with finials and pendants.
The character-defining elements of the side elevation of 1606 Bell Road include:
- asymmetrical composition;
- bays/dormers closest to front elevation have same design as bays/dormers on front elevation;
- bays/dormers closest to rear elevation have wide profile, two-faceted (triangular) bay windows on ground floor, round headed mullion windows on second floor, and Dutch gable dormers with broken pediment.