Description of Historic Place
MacDonald House is located in a glen beside a large brook and a tree lined road in Glendyer, Cape Breton Island. This wood-frame, two-and-a-half storey Greek Revival style house was built between 1855 and 1860. The building and surrounding property are included in the designation.
The MacDonald House is valued for its association with the establishment of the first fulling and dyeing mills in Inverness County, its builder, and for its architecture.
Donald MacDonald came to Glendyer from Middle River, Pictou County in June, 1848. He was of Scottish descent; his grandfather came to Pictou from the parish of Kilmorack, Scotland aboard the "Hector" in 1773 and settled in Middle River, Pictou County.
Shortly following his arrival in Glendyer, MacDonald found that the brook on his property had the potential to power several waterwheels and turbines if dammed properly. He quickly began building fulling and dyeing mills. As his milling operation grew, MacDonald began to be known as “Dan the Dyer.” Eventually the area was named for him – the dyer’s glen or Glendyer. The fulling and dyeing mills were the first of their kind in Inverness County. To that point there had been no other mill where people could take their wool and dye it in large batches. As this greatly reduced the amount of work at home, the mill was a welcome addition to the County.
In addition to his fulling and dyeing mills, MacDonald, a skilled carpenter, also built a grist mill and sawmill. Aside from the services and employment his efforts provided the people of Inverness County, he was also politically active. He died in 1866 at the age of forty-one. Donald was married to Nancy MacDonald of MacLellan’s Brook, Pictou County and the couple had six children. The sons continued in the same industry as their father.
In 1881, the sons of the "Dyer" established the Glendyer Woolen Mills. In 1885 these mills were totally destroyed by fire. Within three months the sons constructed a new and larger mill which served the people of Inverness County for many years.
The MacDonald House represents the industriousness of Donald MacDonald, as a successful business owner. The house, built by MacDonald, is one of the few tangible connections to his impact on Inverness County as none of his mills are extant. The large Greek Revival home in its attractive setting makes it a local landmark.
Source: Municipality of the County of Inverness, Municipal Heritage Files, MacDonald House
Character-defining elements of original section of the MacDonald House relate to its Greek Revival style and include:
- two-and-one-half storey wood frame house with gable end facing road;
- asymmetrical entrance;
- cut stone foundation;
- steeply pitched roof with central chimney;
- three sided bay window on front elevation;
- wide cornice under eaves with corner returns;
- corner pilasters with modified Doric caps;
- drip mould hoods over attic windows;
- traditional sidelights on entrance door with lower wooden panels.
Character-defining elements of the ell include:
- ell addition to rear of house consists of two sections with separate roof profiles;
- two dormer windows on each side of ell with fan detail;
- hooded pediments over all windows, most with fluted jambs;
- six panel entrance door with sidelights;
- simple entablature over door with carved dentils under the soffit;
- simple pilasters that frame main door with modified Doric caps.