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Argyle Township Court House and Jail National Historic Site of Canada

8168 Highway 3, Tusket, Nova Scotia, B0W, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2005/08/03

Corner view of the Argyle Township Court House and Jail, showing its wood construction and its multi-pane sash windows, 2003.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, Scott Muise, 2003.
Rear view
View of the main entrance of the Argyle Township Court House and Jail, showing its dentilled and returned eaves and its corner pilasters, 1999.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, P. Muise, 1999.
Façade
View of the interior of the Argyle Township Court House, showing the surviving interior forms, furnishings and fittings, 2003.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, Scott Muise, 2003.
Interior view

Other Name(s)

Argyle Township Court House and Jail National Historic Site of Canada
Argyle Township Court House and Jail
Palais de justice et prison du canton d'Argyle

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1802/01/01 to 1805/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/03/30

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Argyle Township Court House and Jail National Historic Site of Canada is a simple but elegant two-storey wooden building constructed from 1802 to 1805 in the New England Meeting House form. Located at the corner of Highway 3 and Court Street in Tusket, Nova Scotia, it now serves as a museum and archives. The official recognition refers to the building on its property as defined at the time of designation.

Heritage Value

Argyle Township Court House and Jail was designated a national historic site of Canada in 2005 because:
- as the oldest known surviving combined court house and jail, it is a rare and well-preserved early example of a significant functional building type in British North America in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; and,
- its restrained, classically inspired wooden detailing, including the main doorway and exterior pilasters and cornices, and its overall exterior form, contribute to an elegant design based on New England Meeting House precedents.

The heritage value of Argyle Township Court House and Jail National Historic Site of Canada resides in its age, its illustration of its original function, and in its architectural quality.

Argyle Township Court House and Jail was built between 1802 and 1805 in order to house the General Sessions of the Peace for the District of Yarmouth and Argyle. It was expanded in 1833 and again in 1870, eventually expanding to three times its original size. The jail closed in 1924, followed by the the court house in 1944. From 1945-1976 it served as offices for the Municipality of Argyle until it was restored in 1982. Since 1983, it has been operated as a heritage site, museum and archives.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 2004.

Character-Defining Elements

Key features contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- its rectangular footprint and two-and-a-half storey massing under a pitched roof;
- its main entry on the gable end, defined by its centrally placed door with windows and belfry directly above;
- its wood construction and detailing;
- its classically-inspired detailing, notably the panelled main door with fanlight within a classical surround composed of flanking pilasters under a pediment, its dentilled and returned eaves and its corner pilasters;
- its multi-pane sash windows;
- surviving interior forms, furnishings and fittings, including the spiral staircase and court room fittings, its vault, and original metal fittings;
- surviving evidence of its original interior layout as a court house, jail and jailer’s residence;
- long-term patterns of access and circulation;
- its siting at a crossroads.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

2005/08/03

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1805/01/01 to 1844/01/01
1833/01/01 to 1833/01/01
1870/01/01 to 1870/01/01
1982/01/01 to 1982/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Security and Law
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type

Current

Leisure
Museum

Historic

Government
Correctional Facility
Government
Town or City Hall

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

10830

Status

Published

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Façade

Argyle Township Court House and Gaol

The Argyle Township Court House and Gaol is a two-and-a-half storey wooden building located on the corner of Highway #3 and Courthouse Road in the centre of the village of Tusket,…

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