Description of Historic Place
Built circa 1768, the Rafuse Hennigar House is one of the oldest homes in the Chester Grant area, outside of Chester Basin, Nova Scotia. The home rests on a knoll overlooking the surrounding farming fields. The Municipal Heritage Designation applies to the buildings and surrounding property.
The Rafuse Hennigar House is valued for its age, method of construction, architecture and association with agriculture. The home was constructed circa 1768 by its first owner, Paulus Rafuse, who was a farmer and carpenter. The home is an asymmetrical three-quarter Cape Cod style building that features two distinct construction techniques: post and beam, typical of most Nova Scotian homes this age and coulisse construction, a much older method of construction used in medieval Europe that is atypical in Nova Scotia.
Although coulisee construction is unusual in Nova Scotia as a whole, there are other examples of this construction method in Lunenburg County. This method is evident in the first storey which includes unusually large corner posts with deep grooves and large planks slid in, meaning the exterior walls are held in place by the grooves without the use of pegs or nails on this home. The walls of the Rafuse Hennigar home feature exceptionally wide Hemlock planks, with the front wall being formed by just three planks.
The home is also valued for its interior and exterior architectural integrity. The interior has had almost no modifications made to it and still boasts the original stone hearth and the original basement/cold room is still accessible through a trap door in the kitchen. The exterior still boasts the simple decorative elements common to its three-quarter Cape Cod style including minimal eave overhangs, simple plain corner boards and frieze. The home also features the original board and batten door on the front elevation, including the original latch key hardware instead of a modern door knob. This central door on the front elevation is ornamented by a basic four pane transom window and is flanked by a single window on one side and a pair of windows on the other side, which show its three-quarter asymmetrical design.
The rear elevation of the home also features a board and batten door that was discovered in 1989. This door is flanked by a single window on each side, but the layout is asymmetrical like the front elevation. All of the windows in the home were originally six-over-six designs, but they were replaced in 1991 prior to designation. The most significant changes to the home are the addition of a small gable addition on the north elevation circa 1970 and the removal of the central chimney in 1990.
Since the home’s construction, it has been associated with the agricultural industry in Nova Scotia. Although the original agricultural buildings no longer exist, the property does feature a large two-storey barn constructed in the mid 1880s that remains in use, which continues an over two-hundred year tradition of raising a small herd of cattle on the site.
Source: Municipality of the District of Chester Heritage Property Files.
The character-defining elements of the Rafuse Hennigar House that relate to its Cape Cod architecture include:
- narrow eave overhangs;
- one-and-one-half storey construction;
- plain corner boards and frieze boards;
- board and batten doors on front and rear elevations;
- wood shingle cladding;
- steeply pitched gable roof;
- four pane transom window over the front door.
The character-defining elements of the Rafuse Hennigar House that relate to its construction include:
- post and beam construction of the one-and-one-half storey level;
- coulisse construction of the walls of the first storey consisting of large grooved posts with Hemlock planks slid into them forming the wall;
- absense of wooden pegs or nails in construction of first storey;
- basement with access from the kitchen;
- field stone foundation.