Description of Historic Place
MacPhee House is a one-and-one-half storey wooden house in the Classical Revival style situated on a large property along the banks of the West River, just west of the community of Sheet Harbour on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. The municipal designation extends to the building and the land it occupies.
MacPhee House is valued for its association with Florence MacPhee and continuity of ownership within her family; for its association with the promotion and preservation of Sheet Harbour’s history; and for its Classical Revival architecture.
Constructed around 1875, the structure was originally located in the centre of Sheet Harbour as a residence for John Porter Hogan, a local schoolteacher. In 1880, he sold the house and two half-acre lots to Malcolm MacFarlane, a local merchant and lumberman. In 1900, Florence MacPhee purchased the house and lots.
The house was MacPhee’s private residence but it also became an important landmark in Sheet Harbour, serving as a post office, grocery store and rooming/boarding house catering to business travellers, bank employees, teachers and other professionals as well as sportsmen who were hunting and fishing in the area. A side ell was added to the house around 1911 to accommodate the lodgers.
An astute entrepreneur, MacPhee ran the successful business while raising her family of eight children. Her husband, John Angus, also worked at the hotel and at various times as a gold miner and lumberman. Florence ran the business in her name until her death in 1964. At this time, her daughters, Marion Grant and Elsie MacPhee, took it over, keeping the property in the MacPhee family for 83 years, until selling it to a local businessman in 1983.
In 1985, the provincial government purchased the house, which was facing demolition after a fire destroyed half of the side ell addition. The remainder of the building was moved to its present location in the West River Bridge area of Sheet Harbour and restored. In 2004, the Halifax Regional Municipality purchased the property, and working with the Sheet Harbour and Area Chamber of Commerce, turned it into a municipal Visitor Information Centre. Additionally, the building houses an interpretive centre, offering local history and artefacts, historical photographs and other resources about the local community. The building is set in a landscaped park area and linked with six kilometres of scenic nature trails.
Architecturally, MacPhee House showcases Classical Revival features, including its simple mouldings, prominent returning eaves, cornice, carved frieze and cornerboards.
Source: HRM Community Development Department, Heritage Property Program, MacPhee House file.
The character-defining elements of MacPhee House include:
- main structure with steeply pitched gable roof;
- medium-pitched side ell with gable roof;
- asymmetrical façades;
- wood shingle cladding with plain wooden cornerboards and a plain wooden frieze under roof eaves;
- returned eaves;
- Gothic dormer on side elevation;
- capped windows with simple surrounds;
- capped entryways with simple surrounds;
- landscaped park location with nature trails.