Description of Historic Place
The Coach House is a garage for the former mansion at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Cornwallis. It is a wood frame structure designed in the Colonial-Revival Style. Its centre block with side wings features segmentally arched garage openings, dormer windows and a cupola crowning its roof. It is situated some distance from the Officers’ Mess. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Coach House is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Coach House, although part of CFB Cornwallis, is associated with the development of large summer homes in Nova Scotia, and also with the evolution of garage design. In the early part of the 20th century, it was common practice on wealthy estates to locate a coach house and/or a garage at a distance from the main residence. The Coach House was taken over by HMCS Cornwallis in 1942 and served as a fire station until it became a married officer’s quarters in the early 1960s. It stands out at CFB Cornwallis, where it is associated with belonging to a previous phase of the community’s history; the period when this land was being developed as a millionaire’s estate. By 1943 the Coach House was surrounded by a military base housing thousands, and with facilities typical of a sizeable town.
The Coach House is a very good example of a detached garage built in the Colonial-Revival Style to complement its mansion. It combines aesthetic expression with a very good functional design. The Coach House, following the early 20th century dictates for the estates of the wealthy in Nova Scotia, combines neoclassical details with Palladian elements in a well-proportioned Palladian plan. The use of rectangular wood blocks to simulate stone quoins is just one of the examples indicative of its fine quality craftsmanship.
The Coach House is compatible with the character of its neighbourhood setting at CFB Cornwallis. It is a distinct and familiar building on the base.
Sources: Joan Mattie, Coach House, Canadian Forces Base Cornwallis, Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 88-153; Coach House, CFB Cornwallis, Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, Heritage Character Statement, 88-153.
The character-defining elements of the Coach House should be respected.
Its Colonial-Revival Style, functional design and fine quality craftsmanship, for example:
- its two-storey, symmetrical massing composed of a prominent centre block with one-storey side wings;
- its gable roof with dormers;
- its successful combination of the neoclassical details, such as the segmentally arched garage doors and demi-lune gable windows, with the Palladian elements, such as a modified Palladian window and a cupola;
- its use of rectangular wood blocks at the corners of the centre block to simulate stone quoins, and of simulated stone keystones above the garage doorways.
- its wood-panelled garage doors with elliptical lights above, the bracketed eaves, and the bracket-shaped downspouts of the eavestroughing.
The manner in which the Coach House is compatible with the character of its neighbourhood setting at CFB Cornwallis and is a familiar building in the area, as evidenced by:
- its overall Colonial-Revival Style which harmonizes with its residential military neighbourhood and with the four buildings which pre-date the construction of CFB Cornwallis including the Officer’s Mess, Base Commander’s Residence, Commander’s Garage, and the Morse Barn;
- its architectural style which distinguishes it from most other buildings at CFB Cornwallis and its proximity to the well-known Base Commander’s Residence, all of which contributes to its status as a familiar landmark for residents of the base.