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
1802/01/01 to 1805/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
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.
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.
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.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
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
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Governing Canada
- Security and Law
Function - Category and Type
- Correctional Facility
- Town or City Hall
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec.
Cross-Reference to Collection
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,…