Description of Historic Place
The Queen Anne Inn, built in 1869-1870. is a large three storey wood-frame house with a mansard roof, and a significant period two storey ell to the rear. It is located at 494 St. George Street, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, in the middle of the historic residential district. It is set in the midst of spacious grounds, and has one outbuilding to the rear of the house. Its façade has undergone very few alterations since its initial construction. The house, outbuilding, and property form the designation.
The heritage value of the Queen Anne Inn relates to its use as an inn and an boys school and in its prominent Second Empire style architecure.
Its historic value, as recognized in the municipal designation of the entire property, lies in its use as prominent residence, boys’ boarding school and country inn. It was constructed for William Ritchie and his wife Fanny Foster, who, according to local tradition, was determined to build a finer, more elaborate home than that of her sister, Susan Ryerson, which stood directly across the street, known as the Hillsdale House. Seriously in debt from the building of the house, the Ritchies opened an elite boarding house, serving the public for many years. This was one of the first of the large private homes of the nineteenth century to be converted for such purposes, reflecting the changed economic conditions for some Annapolis Royal families. In 1897 it became St. Andrew’s School for Boys. When the 1921 fire in the business district of Annapolis Royal destroyed the Queen Hotel, its proprietor bought the Ritchie house, giving it the name of his previous hotel. For most of the twentieth century, the building has served as hotel/country inn, except for a brief period in the 1960s when it was operated as a private nursing home.
Its long history as a hotel reflects the importance for of the rise of tourism in the late nineteenth century for Annapolis Royal, and the continuing strength of that industry for the town throughout the next century. Its careful restoration and refurbishment as a country inn in the 1980s-1890s reflects the presence of confidence in the revitalization of the town then underway.
The architectural significance of the Queen Anne Inn lies in its adherence to the forms of the Second Empire style, its visual impact and its intactness. It is one of only 2 three storey residences in Annapolis Royal and the best example of the Second Empire style in the area. In terms of mass and setting, it is easily the most impressive residence in the town. Its strong architectural features, including the 3 storey central tower with cupola, set in a wide expanse of lawn, are eye-catching and dramatic. It retains all of its original grounds, which accentuate the size and massing of the building. Most of the elaborate decorative wooden trim, including brackets, 3 storey bay windows and curved hoods over the windows, is original. There have been very few significant alterations made to the exterior of the building. Only the original complementary balustraded fence, which separated the lawns from the street, is missing. With the exception of the addition of a number of bathrooms, the interior has remained largely intact, with most of the original layout of rooms, original woodwork and staircases. Its size and elegance reflects the aspirations and prosperity of late nineteenth century Annapolis Royal, and the awareness of its builders of the prevailing styles of the era.
Source: Heritage Property Files, MAP#66 – 494 St. George Street, Town Hall, Annapolis Royal.
Character-defining elements of the Queen Anne Inn include:
- Second Empire style features, in wood, including: the 3 storey tower, decorative trim, Mansard roof;
- relatively unaltered interior window treatment, front entry, interior trim, main staircase, fireplaces, and layout of principal rooms;
- exterior landscaped setting including spacious lawns and trees;
- form and massing;
- large joined brick chimneys;
- curved, bell cast, painted shingle mansard roof on tower, house and ell with heavy wooden cornice bell line;
- elaborately decorated wooden hood on dormers on tower, house and ell;
- heavily bracketed wood frieze with decoration;
- symmetric wooden one-over-one windows that have curved tops on the second storey and square on the first storey. The windows have elaborate segmented curved and square pedimented heads and wide decorated casings and trim;
- bracketed third storey wooden balcony and rail;
- elaborate wooden portico with decorative rails paired decorated wooden columns, porch and stairs;
- narrow wooden clapboard with decorated corner boards and water table;
- paired wooden glazed entry doors;
- 3 storey wooded polygonal bays with elaborate decorative wood trim and paneling;
- exposed brick foundation.