Alexander James House (Evergreen House)
Links and documents
1867/01/01 to 1867/12/31
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Alexander James House (Evergreen House) is a two-and-a-half storey, wood frame Picturesque building with a hipped gable roof located in a residential area of Dartmouth, NS, on a hill overlooking Halifax Harbour. Today the house is operated as part of the Dartmouth Heritage Museum and is open to the public for exhibitions and tours. The heritage designation applies to the building and the land it occupies.
The Alexander James House, commonly know as "Evergreen" for the tall evergreen trees that originally covered the site, is valued for its historical associations and architectural character. Built in 1867, the house is associated with the original owner, Judge Alexander James. Another important association is with Nova Scotian folklorist, Dr. Helen Creighton, who lived in the house from 1943 until her death in 1977 when the building was bequeathed to the City of Dartmouth.
Judge Alexander James began his career as a schoolmaster and later became a prominent judge and a close friend of Joseph Howe, the famed anti-Confederation politician and orator. After marriage, Judge James and his wife Harriet Hawthorne initially lived on Queen Street in Downtown Dartmouth. They had several children, a number of whom died in a diphtheria epidemic in 1858, perhaps a reason for their move to the then remote location of Evergreen. Judge James acquired the land for the house from James Creighton in 1862 and had the house built and ready for occupancy by 1867. The Creighton family regained ownership of the property in 1919. Helen Creighton lived in Evergreen from 1921 to 1978. She is considered one of Canada's best-known folklorists - a pioneer researcher, collector and author, with an international reputation.
Evergreen is a large, elaborately designed, twenty room house that was built to represent the James family's prominent status in Dartmouth. Designed by well-known architect Henry Elliot, it is a good example of Picturesque architecture mixed with traditional Nova Scotian vernacular elements. Evergreen provided the James family with both a residence and a place of business. The symmetrical facade and triple window over the entrance portico emphasize the formal qualities of the design. The sitting of the house affords a panoramic view of Halifax Harbour.
Source: Department of Culture, Recreation and Fitness, Inventory Site Form on 26 Newcastle Street found in Heritage File 26 Newcastle Street at Planning and Development Services.
Character-defining elements of the Alexander James House relate to its Picturesque style architecture and include:
- hipped gable roof with peaked dormers set into the bracketed eaves;
- wood shingle cladding, with plain wooden corner boards;
- stone foundation;
- symmetrical three bay facade, and triple window over main entrance;
- formal entrance with double wooden doors, transom window and sidelights;
- bracketed portico with balustrade;
- first storey windows with slightly projecting caps;
- second storey windows with simple hood mouldings;
- central rear projection bay with hipped gable roof and double round-headed windows;
- enclosed glazed verandah on rear;
- prominent hilltop location overlooking Dartmouth Cove and Halifax Harbour.
Local Governments (NS)
Heritage Property Act
Municipally Registered Property
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
HRM Planning and Development Services, 6960 Mumford Road, Halifax, NS B3L 4P1, File 26 Newcastle Street
Cross-Reference to Collection
The Helen Creighton fonds is held in the collections of the Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management, Halifax, NS.