Links and documents
1936/01/01 to 1936/12/31
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Blue Cottage is a two storey cottage located close to the shore of the Bay of Fundy on Huntington Point, NS. Built in 1936 by Charles Macdonald, the cottage is one of the original five summer cottages built by Macdonald, providing Macdonald’s employees with much needed work and reflect his artistic vision. The provincial designation includes the cottage and surrounding property.
The Blue Cottage is valued for its association with the artist and builder Charles Macdonald whose approach to art and building materials produced unique architectural statements.
Charles Macdonald was born and raised in Steam Mill (near Centreville), a small community in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. At the age of fifteen Macdonald left school to work in local industries, including a coffin factory and carriage factory where he learned basic carpentry skills. In 1898 he went to sea as a ship’s carpenter and for several years he travelled the world, recording his travels in poems, letters, drawings and watercolours. Between 1908 and 1910 Macdonald lived in Vancouver where he joined the Socialist Party of Canada. In 1910 he returned to Nova Scotia and established a cement brick factory, Kentville Concrete, and operated it following his socialist philosophy. It was a cooperative operation; workers did not receive wages but drew what funds they needed from the proceeds of their work. Macdonald believed so strongly in social progress that even company advertising material promoted concrete as one part of a larger movement of social change.
The Blue Cottage is one of five summer cottages built by Macdonald between 1934 and 1938, four of which remain standing today. The project was conceived of in part by Macdonald as make-work projects for his staff from the concrete factory, who had little work during the years of the Great Depression. Macdonald and his wife Mabel spent time camping at Huntington Point every summer since 1919 and were both very fond of the place and for this reason Macdonald chose the Point at the location for his often called ‘faerie cottages.’ Macdonald kept one cottage for himself and rented the others at a very low cost until the proper buyer, in Macdonald’s eyes, was found. The cottages, while each different in shape and design, are built of concrete reinforced by iron and driftwood, brightly painted, and completely asymmetrical.
The structures attest to Macdonald’s belief in the virtues of concrete as a building material; it was inexpensive and available to all. Interior elements such as the fireplace, kitchen counters and the stairs are also made of reinforced concrete and brightly painted. The roof and trim are painted a bright blue, from which the cottage derived its name. The whimsical design is completely organic, and like Macdonald’s Centreville home, the property surrounding the cottage is adorned with concrete sculptures. The Blue Cottage, like the Charles Macdonald House is a local landmark, unique within Nova Scotia. Like its original intent, the Blue Cottage is available to rent in the summers for a donation to the Centreville Society, owners and caretakers of the Blue Cottage and Charles Macdonald House.
Source: Provincial Heritage Property files, no. 230
Character defining elements of the exterior of Blue Cottage relate to its organic design and concrete reinforeced with iron and driftwood building materials and include:
- chimney and first storey walls clad in brightly painted stones;
- portico over main entrance;
- exterior entrance to washroom;
- blue painted roof and trim;
- windows of various sizes and shapes;
- second storey balcony facing Bay of Fundy;
- sailboat sculpture on top of chimney;
- animal sculptures on grounds.
Character-defining elements of the interior of the Blue Cottage include:
- all original or historic elements made from concrete and stone, including mantel and counters;
- brightly painted elements such as chimney.
Province of Nova Scotia
Heritage Property Act
Provincially Registered Property
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Social Movements
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Historic or Interpretive Site
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Provincial Heritage Property Progam files, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS, B3H 3A6
Cross-Reference to Collection