Victoriana Steeves Homestead Bed and Breakfast
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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Victoriana Steeves Homestead Bed and Breakfast is a sprawling one-and-a-half and two-storey Carpenter Gothic residence from the mid-19th century. Reverend John Hughes built this house in 1860 while he was minister of the Hillsborough Baptist Church. It is located on Pleasant Street in Hillsborough.
The heritage value of the Victoriana Steeves Homestead Bed and Breakfast rests with the impact its second owners exerted on the mining industry throughout Atlantic Canada and for its architecture.
Captain James Blight Sr., (his title, ‘Captain’, is a Cornish term for, ‘contractor’), was a tin mine developer who emigrated from Cornwall, England to Boston, circa 1848. His American employer, Fowler and Co., transferred him to Hillsborough in 1845 to manage their gypsum quarries. In 1870, Rev. Hughes accepted another ministry and the Blight family acquired his house and made it their home for the following century.
Captain Blight became keenly interested in Albert County’s albertite deposits. However, the deposit at Albert Mines was very confined and already under heavy development. For ten years he prospected for a new rich vein, even employing a revolutionary tool, the diamond drill, but was unable to locate the mineral in sufficient amounts to warrant a mine. His coal mining interests bore more fruit. He located and developed the Dominion Coal Mines in Pictou, and the Fenwick mine in Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia. James Blight Sr. died in 1890. His son, James Blight Jr., born in Hillsborough in 1856, followed in his father’s footsteps. Working with J. B. King Co., New York, he developed the gypsum quarries in Windsor, N.S. In 1890, he began developing a body of white plaster, or Plaster of Paris at Demoiselle Creek near Hillsborough. It was pure, hard and brilliant white enough to be used straight from the quarry to mould statues, figurines and pottery. In 1920 the third generation of the Blight family moved to the fore. James S. Blight studied engineering at Mount Allison and McGill and became manager of the Albert Manufacturing Co. which, by that time, had taken over his father’s gypsum operation. George and Barry Blight were superintendents at the plaster mill. The family sold the house in 1969.
The Victoriana Steeves Homestead Bed and Breakfast is also recognized for being an excellent example of Carpenter Gothic residential architecture. When Rev. John Hughes built this house in 1860, he employed a style that was not only reflective of rural churches of the time, but was also widely used for presbyteries and other religious residences. The Carpenter Gothic style is expressed in such traditional elements as the steeply-pitched gable roof, the elaborate gingerbread trim and the steep cross-gables. The later one-and-a-half storey additions reflect the style and design of the original residence. Since acquiring the property in 1971 the present owners have worked to restore the spirit of Rev. Hughes’ original flights of architectural fancy. The devotion they have applied to their task shines like a new coat of paint, but penetrates much deeper. Each of the 12 rooms reflects keen attention to historic detail and the grounds are groomed to perfection.
Source: Heritage Hillsborough, William Henry Steeves House Museum, Local Historic Places files
The character-defining elements relating to the exterior of the Victoriana Steeves Homestead Bed and Breakfast include:
- irregular one-and-a-half and two-storey massing;
- steeply-pitched gable roof;
- decorative bargeboard trim on gable ends;
- wooden finals and pendants;
- gable-roofed dormers with double hung windows;
- gable-roofed dormer with three double-hung windows, the centre window having a fanlight;
- two inset red brick chimneys;
- multi-paned bay windows with entablatures;
- double-hung windows;
- oval screen door at one entrance;
- columned veranda with decorative bracketing at capitals;
- cement steps.
Local Governments (NB)
Local Historic Places Program
Municipal Register of Local Historic Places
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
- Migration and Immigration
- Developing Economies
- Extraction and Production
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Hotel, Motel or Inn
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
Rev. John Hughes
Location of Supporting Documentation
William Henry Steeves House Museum, 40 Mill Street, Hillsborough, NB, E4H 2Z8
Cross-Reference to Collection