Richard Brown House
Links and documents
1828/01/01 to 1829/12/31
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Richard Brown House, also known as Beech Hill, is a two-and-one-half storey, T-shaped, British Folk style building, located in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia. The General Mining Association built the original I-shaped house in 1829 for their first mine manager in Cape Breton. A later ell was attached to the rear to give it its current appearance. The exterior cladding of the house is both wood and brick. Both the building and its surrounding property are included in the designation.
The Richard Brown House is valued for its long association with the history of mining in Cape Breton and in particular Richard Brown, the first mine manager for the General Mining Association (GMA) serving between 1829 and 1864, and his son Richard Henry Brown, who served as manager from 1864 to 1901.
Mining has significantly shaped the history of Cape Breton and the GMA dominated the Cape Breton coal mining industry for much of the nineteenth century. It held a royal charter for the exclusive rights to the mineral resources of Nova Scotia from 1826 to 1857. Between 1828 and 1829 Beech Hill was built by the GMA for its first agent manager in Cape Breton, Richard Brown. Brown was a skilled engineer and is credited as being the first to recognize the possibility of assessing undersea coal seams. He is also the author of “The Coalfields and the Coal Trade of the Island of Cape Breton” and “A History of the Island of Cape Breton.” Brown retired as manager in 1864 and the position passed to his son Richard Henry Brown. In addition, Brown was also responsible for the operation of the nearby Lingnand Victoria collieries and in 1898 he was elected the first mayor of Sydney Mines. Brown was manager until 1901 when the GMA interests in Nova Scotia were sold to the Nova Scotia Steel Co. Ltd. The Brown family left the same after occupying the house for over three quarters of a century under the ownership of the General Mining Association. The house was also well known for its social events, including the 1860 visit from the Prince of Wales who later became King Edward VII.
The house was likely built in three stages, the first completed in 1829, consisting of two stories and a façade of five bays. The two later additions, dates unknown, give the building its T-shape. The house has changed little since the turn of the twentieth century.
Source: Notice of Registration of Property as a Provincial Heritage Property, Provincial Property Heritage File no. 042.
Character-defining elements of the Richard Brown House include:
- two and a half storey, five bay façade, British Folk style form and massing;
- gable roof;
- inset windows and doors;
- three sided two storey bay windows on the western wall;
- boxed bay window with foundation on the east wall;
- façade overhang boxed by a plain cornice board and rear cornice board decorated with dentils;
- main house clad in narrow clapboard over brick, except for a small section of the rear wall which is cement over brick and a section of the west wall where the brick is exposed;
- east wall of the ell on the first floor is cement over brick, and the second floor and the rest of the section is finished in clapboard;
- brick exterior walls and interior partitions.
Province of Nova Scotia
Heritage Property Act
Provincially Registered Property
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Extraction and Production
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Provincial Registry found at Heritage Property Program, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS B3H 3A6
Cross-Reference to Collection