Description of Historic Place
The Commanding Officer’s Residence, also known as Building 8, is a simple, vernacular, one-and-a-half storey building that features a gable roof, a rectangular plan, and a full basement that is partially exposed at the rear due to the sloping site. The Commanding Officer’s Residence is oriented towards the Halifax Citadel and marks the eastern end of the original row of four principal buildings at Royal Artillery Park. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Commanding Officer’s Residence is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Commanding Officer’s Residence is a very good example of the national theme of Imperial defence, specifically the land-based defence of the Halifax harbour and of the Royal Navy Dockyard by the British army, and of the sub-theme of garrison life or the accommodation and social aspect of military life. The Commanding Officer’s Residence was closely and continuously associated with the Royal Artillery from its completion in 1805 until the garrison withdrawal in 1906. During that period it housed all of the Royal Artillery commanders including Alexander Cavalie Mercer (1832-1842). As the oldest extant building at Royal Artillery Park, the Commanding Officer’s Residence is the best example of the formative phase of Royal Artillery Park, and within the park, the best example of the Prince Edward period.
The Commanding Officer’s Residence is a good example of a functional type based on a standard plan originally imported from England. Despite several alterations, the one-storey front elevation still houses the main entrance to the building, and the main floor’s original interior layout is still legible and has proven to be adaptable. The building continues to function as it did in the Georgian era as a commanding officer’s residence, demonstrating a continuity of use. Constructed of good quality woodwork and detailing on the interior of the building, the exterior treatment of the Commanding Officer’s Residence is fairly utilitarian in nature.
The Commanding Officer’s Residence strongly reinforces the military character of the campus setting of Royal Artillery Park, which in turn is oriented to the Citadel and reinforces the historic character of the Citadel and the glacis. An integral component of Royal Artillery Park, the Commanding Officer’s Residence has influenced the scale and type of buildings in the surrounding neighbourhood, which consists primarily of residential and low-rise commercial buildings. The Commanding Officer’s Residence is the oldest surviving building at Royal Artillery Park and is a visually prominent building, and as such, it is a well-known local landmark.
Sources: Ian Doull, Buildings No. 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, Royal Artillery Park, CFB Halifax, Nova Scotia. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 90-005; 8/Commanding Officer’s Residence, Royal Artillery Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Heritage Character Statement 90-005.
The character-defining elements of the Commanding Officer’s Residence should be respected.
Its good functional design and its good quality materials and craftsmanship as manifested in:
- the one-storey functional front elevation which still features the main entrance in its original location;
- the original interior layout which is still legible on the main floor and which is derived from a standard plan for this building type;
- the good quality woodwork and detailing on the interior of the building including the door casings, doors, mouldings and mantelpieces.
The manner in which the building reinforces the military character of the campus setting of Royal Artillery Park, and is a well-known local landmark as evidenced by:
- its low residential scale and massing which are in keeping with the other remaining Royal Artillery Park buildings, and which have influenced the scale and type of buildings in the surrounding neighbourhood;
- its location at the eastern end of the original row of the four principal Royal Artillery buildings including the Officers’ Mess;
- the view from the building of the signalling masts on the Citadel which is significant since it was through this visual connection that the early officers learned of recent ship arrivals and military messages;
- its visual landmark value owing to its scale, style and location as part of Royal Artillery Park, which together with the Officers’ Mess contributes to the public’s visual image of Royal Artillery Park;
- its importance as a symbolic landmark as a result of its military and community value as part of Halifax as a garrison town.