Description of Historic Place
The Collins Heritage Conservation District, located near the downtown business core of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, is primarily a residential neighborhood which serves as a strong reminder of Yarmouth’s prominence and its many mariners during the "Age of Sail", the history of which is preserved in the Yarmouth County Museum, located within the District. The majority of the buildings were built between 1875 and 1900 and are of wood frame construction with notable decorative elements, but also included are a former church built of granite and one house of brick construction. The district, known locally as "the Collins P", extends along parts of four streets which form the letter ‘P’ and represents one of the highest concentrations of the town’s built heritage reflective of its history as a major centre of shipping. The municipal heritage designation of this district includes the buildings and landscaping and the lands they occupy.
The Collins Heritage Conservation District is valued for its architecture, its relationship with its surroundings, and for its historical associations. It is composed of thirty-one principal buildings, all but three of which are residential, and it reflects a range of architectural styles dating from the 1830s to the 1980s. The three non-residential buildings comprise the Yarmouth County Museum complex, nationally recognized for the excellence of its collections.
The District is also valued for its strong reminders of the town's prosperous past and its ties with Yarmouth's prominence in the "Age of Sail" as a major center of shipping. The majority of the residences within the district were built for ship owners and other merchants whose wealth derived directly or indirectly from shipping interests. Several homes were also built for Master Mariners who were locally prominent, and are associated with the town’s shipping history. Among other notable property owners through the years have been three Members of Parliament, two Members of the Provincial Legislative Assembly, four town councillors and one town mayor. Perhaps the most notable of other owners were Alfred C. Fuller, internationally famed as the “Fuller Brush Man,” and Charles C. Richards and Capt. Augustus Cann, proprietors of the Minard’s Liniment Company.
The transition of the Tabernacle Congregational Church to the Yarmouth County Museum is an important factor in the heritage value of the District in that it continues to draw visitors seeking enlightenment to the area, though now more for cultural, rather than spiritual, reasons. In its present role, it preserves and interprets Yarmouth’s history and people, many of whom were the original occupants of what is now the historical district. The museum complex is comprised of two former residences, the former church and two recent expansions. West of the Museum’s main structure is the former residence of Alfred C. and Primrose (Pelton) Fuller, which was donated in its unaltered state, complete with most of its contents, to the Historical Society by Mrs. Fuller in 1996. The former church, built of Shelburne granite, was sold to the Yarmouth County Historical Society in 1967 and houses the majority of the museum’s collections, including the third largest collection of ship portraits in Canada. The other former residence to the east, acquired by the Historical Society in 1982, presently houses the Society’s archival collections. The two expansions provide state-of-the-art storage facilities as well as meeting space for large groups and display areas for large artefacts, such as stagecoaches and sleighs.
The architectural styles represented in the Collins District include Vernacular, Italianate, New England Colonial, Gothic Revival, Second Empire, Queen Anne Revival, Greek Revival, and Craftsman/Bungalow. The architectural integrity of the majority of the buildings has remained fairly intact due to the care of the owners and the absence of any major destructive forces, such as fires. Of the five buildings presently clad with vinyl siding, only two were built pre-1900. Six of the other buildings have had their towers or cupolas removed.
The surroundings in the District are important to its identity as a district. As a person walks through, it becomes apparent that the relationships between the buildings, the landscaping and the streets play significant roles in the relationship between people and their built environment. All the principal buildings face a street and passers-by are guided along the walkways to the entries, which are mostly defined through decoration or a projection. This formal greeting technique emphasizes the link between building and street, defining a relationship among the properties. Mature trees are featured on many properties, adding to the visual appeal of the area.
Source: Collins Heritage Conservation District
The principal elements that characterize the heritage value of this district include:
- building stock of predominantly wood frame construction, which includes 20 two storey buildings, 8 one-and-a-half storey buildings and 3 one storey buildings;
- diversity and richness of intact architectural detail which expressed the relative wealth of the original property owners;
- variety of intact decorative details evident on many of the houses including carved brackets, patterned shingling, carved mouldings and trims, elaborate window and door surrounds and spindle-work trimmed verandas
- buildings setbacks, spacious lots, plantings and lawns;
- mature trees lining the streets, especially the horse chestnuts;
- interrelationship of the buildings to each other and to the streets they face;
- location, two blocks east of the central business district, three blocks east of the waterfront
- community museum located in a former church