Description of Historic Place
The Smyth House is a Victorian-style residence of two-and-one-half storeys on the front, and three storeys on the rear due to the downward slope of the lot. The house is located in a Victorian residential area of Brunswick Street in Halifax, NS, overlooking the Halifax Dockyards. The designation includes the house and its surrounding property.
Smyth House is valued for its historical associations with its earliest residents and its vernacular architecture, locally known as a Halifax House.
Smyth House was designed and possibly built by its first resident, Irish immigrant John Foster Smyth (1816 to 1857) for his parents and siblings. Smyth purchased the land from lawyer, historian and Canada’s first provincial archivist, Thomas Beamish Atkins and Sarah Ott-Beamish in June, 1846. John Smyth who owned a painting and glazing business in Halifax and his brother, Joseph Howe Smyth (1851 to 1917), who was a graduate of Horton Academy and the College of Wolfville and later became the superintendent of the Letter Carriers of the Post Office in Halifax.
The Smyth family lived in the house until 1857 and the house was then rented to Foster Hutchinson Snelling (1800 to 1868) a prominent Halifax businesses man and Dr. Murdock Chisholm (1848 to 1929), a prominent physician, surgeon and president of Dalhousie College.
Smyth House is an excellent example of the evolution of architectural styles in nineteenth century Halifax. Architecturally, the house is valued for its age and design. Constructed between 1847 and 1849, the Smyth House is typical of Halifax during the mid to late nineteenth century. Characteristic features include asymmetrical placement of the main door, mansard roof, classical mouldings and simple window decoration. The scale and building materials of the Smyth House are similar to most of the townhouses on this street making the house complimentary in design.
Source: HRM Heritage Property File 2237 Brunswick Street, Smyth House, found at HRM Planning and Development Services, Heritage Property Program, 6960 Mumford Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The character-defining elements of Smyth House relate to its Halifax House style and include:
- features of its Halifax vernacular townhouse style, which include the asymmetrical placement of the main door to the left, the two windows on the ground floor and the three windows on the second floor which are arranged symmetrically;
- original roof line was the traditional truncated pitched shape prevalent in Victorian Halifax;
- two-and-one-half storeys on the front and three storeys on the back due to the downward slope of the lot;
- scale of the house which is higher than the next house (one-and-one-half storey) but is equal to the height of the many other townhouses on the street;
- curving mansard roof on the front of the house highlighted by three decorated gable-roofed dormers;
- decorative details such as bracketed window caps and door frame with a narrow pediment.