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Norman J. Layton House

142 Smith Avenue, Truro, Nova Scotia, B2N, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1991/08/05

Norman J. Layton House, Willow Street perspective, 2004; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Northwest perspective
Norman J. Layton House, south elevation showing compound gable roof, 2004; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
South elevation
Norman J. Layton House, Smith Street elevation, 2004; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
North elevation

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/11/19

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Norman J. Layton House is atwo storey wood frame dwelling located in a residential neighborhood at 142 Smith Avenue, Truro, NS in the west end of the town. Built in 1896, it is a free-classic Queen Anne building, with a prominent wrap-around porch and highly unusual side profile. The designation includes the building and surrounding property.

Heritage Value

Historic Value

Norman J. Layton House is valued for its long association with the family of Francis Layton, which has included many prominent members of the community over several generations. Layton, a blacksmith, moved from rural Colchester County to Truro in the early 1830s and started a carriage-making business on nearby Willow Street. His elder son, George A. Layton, who apprenticed with his father as a carriage-maker, later became a customs officer and furniture merchant and built this house in 1896.

Layton’s younger son, prominent lawyer Norman J. Layton, held the land where this house sits in trust until 1896. Norman J’s son, dentist Norman McG. Layton re-acquired the house shortly after World War II.

Architectural Value

Norman J. Layton House is also valued as one of the finest examples in Truro of free-classic Queen Anne Revival architecture. The building has many unusual features, notably the hipped roof in the front transitioning into a rear gable end, and a lower gable end below the first.

The house is formally oriented to the west toward Willow Street, rather than the more obvious Smith Avenue which it abuts. When constructed, it was part of a trio of Layton houses on Willow Street, and access to Smith Avenue was blocked by a narrow strip of land. As a result the house was turned to face Willow Street. It was many years before the house was considered part of Smith Avenue.

Source: Planning Department, Town of Truro, file 10MNS0032

Character-Defining Elements

External elements that define the building’s heritage character include:

- building elements, including: basic Queen Anne Revival form and massing, with gable-end rear extensions; wide moulded cornices outlined in dentils; hipped-roof wrap-around porch with turned supports, arched openings and decorative railings.
- window and door elements, including: narrow sashed windows; half-moon strip window in the front pediment; square art-glass indow beside the front door; pedimented window above the entrance, with heavy support brackets; wide-moulded window and door surrounds.
- building materials, including: wooden clapboard cladding and trim; asphalt-shingled roof.

Elements that define the site’s heritage character include:

- formal orientation of the house toward Willow Street rather than Smith Avenue;
- elevation of the house on a grassy terrace built into a low hillside.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (NS)

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Municipally Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Peopling the Land
Migration and Immigration

Function - Category and Type


Single Dwelling


Architect / Designer



George A. Layton

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Planning Department, Town of Truro, PO Box 427, Truro, NS B2N 5C5; file 10MNS0032

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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