Description of Historic Place
Admiralty House, located on Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Halifax, is an imposing example of British Classicism designed to house the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Navy’s North American Station. Its carefully balanced façade is five bays wide with a central focus provided by the main entrance. The emphasis on symmetry is echoed in the regularly placed windows and carefully positioned end chimneys that flank its hipped roof. Set back from Gottingen Street, its front gates, oval driveway, and grounds are remnants of a more formal garden site. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Admiralty House is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The heritage value of this residence is reflected in its architectural excellence, its significant and continuing association with Canada's military history, and its considerable role in defining the character of the western end of the dockyard area. As the residence for the British naval commander-in-chief of the North American station throughout the 19th century, Admiralty House was the locale of many gala events and royal visits.
Admiralty House is an imposing, dignified two-storey stone mansion designed in the British Classical style. Its regular proportions, with the central focus provided by its main entrance, and the symmetrical arrangement of its windows and end chimneys are elements found on many houses constructed during the 18th century in the English provinces and colonies. The building exhibits a very good functional design, which is evidenced in its many uses as a military structure and residence over the past two centuries. Admiralty House served its primary residential function from ca. 1819 to 1904. Its many uses thereafter, including its use as a naval hospital, and the damage it suffered in the 1917 explosion have altered both plan and finishes in parts of the interior. Its materials and craftsmanship exemplify the high design standards of the British Royal Navy.
One of the oldest buildings at CFB Halifax, Admiralty House is an appropriate symbol of the strategic role played for more than two centuries by the port of Halifax in the history of North American naval defence. Its siting on green open space was reflective of a move in the 18th century from urban to semi-urban living. The presence of green open space and trees around the house and its setting away from the main road preserve its 19th century character.
Nathalie Clerk, Admiralty House, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 83-074; Admiralty House, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Heritage Character Statement, 83-074.
The character-defining elements of Admiralty House should be respected.
Its good aesthetic, very good functional design, and very good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
- its solid, rectangular two-and-a-half-storey stone massing;
- its medium hipped roof with three gabled dormers at the front and the back;
- its main portico entrance topped with a gable roof, ornamented with denticulate pediment;
- the symmetrical arrangement of its windows and ends chimneys;
- any remaining elements of the original interior layout from 1815-1917.
The manner in which Admiralty House reinforces the historic character of its setting at CBF Halifax, as evidenced by:
- its location at CFB Halifax as a symbolic landmark signifying the British naval prominence in North America;
- its setting on landscaped grounds surrounded by fields and trees, set back from the main road.