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Annapolis County Court House

377 St. George Street, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, B0S, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1991/04/18

Granite split staircase leading to second storey courtroom, front facade, Annnapolis County Court House, Annapolis Royal, 2005.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005.
Granite Staircase
Annapolis County Court House, Annapolis Royal, front elevation, 2005.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005.
Front Elevation
Side elevation, Annapolis County Court House, Annapolis Royal, 2005.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005.
Side Elevation

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1837/01/01 to 1837/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/03/02

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Annapolis County Court House is a solid, well-preserved, two storey Palladian building located at the corner of St. George Street and Prince Albert Road in Annapolis Royal, NS. It occupies a dominant position in an historic neighbourhood of eighteenth and nineteenth century buildings. It sits on a rise of land overlooking the Annapolis River basin and adjacent to Fort Anne National Historic Site and the Old Garrison Burying Ground. Provincial registration applies to both the building and the land.

Heritage Value

Annapolis Royal is reported in 1721 to have hosted the first sitting of the Court of Judicature to administer the common law of England within what is now Canada. The present Annapolis County Court House, built in 1837, is valued for its continuing function as a courthouse and jail, the oldest such building in Nova Scotia and one of the oldest in Canada. It is also associated with popular accounts of public hangings and floggings on the Court grounds.

Designed by magistrates of the County’s Grand Jury and built by master builder Francis LeCain in 1836-1837, the Annapolis County Court House replaces an earlier (1793) wood frame court house and gaol that stood on the same site and burned in 1836. It is also significant because it embodies the pure symmetry, horizontality and Classical Revival detailing of the Palladian Style. A major renovation was undertaken and a rear addition built in 1922-1923, to the design of the prominent Nova Scotia architect Leslie R. Fairn. At this time the octagonal cupola at the roof crest and the first storey stucco cladding were added.

Source: NS Heritage Property Program property files, no. 143.

Character-Defining Elements

Exterior Character Defining Elements of the Annapolis County Court House include:

- two storey building with symmetrical, 5-bay front facade and hipped roof;
- all elements of the Palladian Classical Revival style including: rectangular massing with distinct horizontal divisions; hipped roof with remaining original corner chimney; 5 bay symmetrical front facade; 4 column portico with pediment centred on front facade on raised granite base; historic and original interior elements of Court Room.
- granite split staircase leading to second storey courtroom entrance on front facade;
- staircase carries a four column, colonnaded portico of modified Tuscan order, with matching pilasters;
- portico carries a projecting Palladian pediment enclosing “Court House” sign;
- two-leaf, six-panel Georgian oak entry doors with elliptical transom (fan light) at second storey;
- octagonal cupola at roof crest;
- six-over-six, single hung windows replace earlier twelve-over-twelve sashes;
- frame of rusticated granite first storey and second storey flush board timber, both clad in stucco and separated by a timber belt course;
- Federal commemorative stone on front lawn;
- one remaining of four original tall masonry chimneys at the building corners.

Interior Character Defining Elements include:

- second storey Court Room, featuring: dark wood dais/judge’s bench backed by Palladian rear screen; wainscoting of oak veneer; significant collection of judges’ portraiture.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Province of Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Provincially Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1922/01/01 to 1923/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Government and Institutions
Governing Canada
Security and Law

Function - Category and Type


Courthouse and/or Registry Office


Correctional Facility

Architect / Designer



Francis LeCain

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Property Files, Heritage Division, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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