Description of Historic Place
The Harbour House is a one and one half storey, wood frame structure, with a gable roof dormer at the center of the front façade and a Scottish dormer on either side. The date of construction is believed to be between the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. The house sits on a steep grade on the corner of Main and Green Streets in Guysborough, Nova Scotia. Both the house and its surrounding property are included in the designation.
The Harbour House is valued for its age and association with the settlement of the town of Guysborough. The exact date of construction is unknown; however it is believed that the house was built in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. Interior elements from this period are found throughout the house including chair rails, which form window sills, board dados, board doors with wrought hardware, early panel doors, and box locks. This one-and-one-half storey, wood frame structure has a large late nineteenth century kitchen wing addition to the rear. The gable roof has two Scottish dormers with a central gable dormer with a Palladian window in front. It is possible that the dormer arrangement was an addition since the attic shows that the original roof was hipped. There are also original wood shingles from the roof and the exterior wall, and a narrow gable dormer in the addition.
The Harbour House is also valued for of its close association with one time resident William Francis Cook; a prominent religious lay leader, fish merchant, shipbuilder, and judge. William Francis Cook was a descendent of one of the first nine families to settle in the Guysborough area before the arrival of the Loyalists. William Francis Cook was treasurer and a director for the Guysborough and Manchester Farmers’ Society, founded in 1819. Cook apprenticed to Thomas Cutler, a Guysborough merchant and eventually became partner and in 1822 he left R.M. Cutler & Co. to establish his own business in Guysborough. He shipped fish to Halifax, and at times, as far as the West Indies. By the 1830’s he employed many men his shipyard and domestic and international shipping operations. Cook also served as a vestryman in Christ Church, Church of England, in Guysborough from 1822-1823. Cook and his wife, Eliza Cunningham, were among the seven founding members of “The Society of People called Methodists.” In 1837 Cook was appointed a Justice of the Peace; in 1838 a Judge of Common Pleas; and in 1840 Assistant Judge of the Inferior Court and Sessions of the Peace. Cook served as a Trustee of Guysborough Academy in 1848 and as an officer of the local Temperance Society, and serves as president in 1848-1849. In the late 1840’s, after years of having a prosperous business, Cook found himself in financial difficulties and his business was sold and left Guysborough soon after.
Source: Notice of Registration of Property as a Provincial Heritage Property, Provincial Property Heritage File no. 170.
Character-defining elements of the Harbour House include:
- one-and-one-half storey, wood frame structure;
- Gable roof with two Scottish dormers and a central gable dormer with Palladian window;
- two-over- two sash windows;
- exterior wood shingle cladding;
Character-defining elements of the interior of the Harbour House include:
- original wood shingled roof and exterior wall in the interior of the addition, and a narrow gable dormer;
- pegged and numbered rafters;
- original and historic elements, such as chair rails, which form windowsills, board dados, board doors with wrought hardware, early panel doors, and box locks.