Description of Historic Place
The Old Guysborough Court House Museum is located in the heart of the rural community of Guysborough, NS. Built in a simple meeting house style in 1842-1843, the historic place is distinguished by its Gothic arched windows. The designation includes both the building and the property.
The Old Guysborough Court House Museum is valued for its over one-hundred and thirty year role as the principal public building in Guysborough County, and for its Gothic arched windows.
The Guysborough Court House was built in 1842-1843 and immediately became the most important building in Guysborough County, which is located over two hundred and fifty miles from the provincial capital of Halifax. As the only Court House in the County, it served as the location of the Court of General Sessions, and later as the meeting place of the municipal council. The building and the surrounding grounds served multiple purposes for the people of Guysborough County. They were used for agricultural exhibitions, as a polling station, a recruiting station during both world wars, and for legal trials. On September 18, 1867, Guysborough residents voiced their opinion on Confederation by voting, at the Court House, for two anti-Confederation province assembly representatives. In 1973 it ceased to function as a court house when a modern building was constructed. Today it is operated open to the public as a museum, operated by the Guysborough Historical Society, interpreting the history of the building and the county.
The Old Guysborough Court House is an important building in Nova Scotia and is unique among historic court houses in Nova Scotia. It was designed by carpenter Elisha Randall, who also was the builder, and he added what are considered his own personal touches to the design, including the buildings’ distinct Gothic arched windows. Using local materials, Randall built the Court House in a plain symmetrical meeting house form, with the exception of the windows.
Source: Notice of Recommendation of Registration, Provincial Heritage Property File no. 94
Exterior Character-Defining Elements of the Old Guysborough Court House Museum
related to its simple symmetrical meeting house style and location within the community include:
- wood shingle cladding
- windows with true Gothic Revival point arch with a simple tracery pattern;
- projected, enclosed porch on the street side with gable roof;
- south side wing;
- wood shingle roof;
- sandstone foundation;
- location on a main road, in the centre of the community.
Interior Character-Defining Elements of the Old Guysborough Court House Museum include:
- all historical and original elements related to the function of the building as a court house, including: Petit Jury room, judge’s bench, gallery, barrister’s room, main court room including benches for spectators, and Grand Jury room.