Description of Historic Place
The West Curtain is an integral component of Halifax Citadel, a star-shaped fort on the crest of Citadel Hill in downtown Halifax. Situated behind the west ravelin and forming part of the escarp parapet, the West Curtain is a large and impressive structure of plain design. It presents two main elevations. The wall facing the parade square features large semi-circular arches, doors and windows. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The West Curtain is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The West Curtain is one of the best examples of a structure closely associated with the defence of the Imperial naval station of Halifax against potential military incursions by the United States following the War of 1812 and during the heightened tension following the Trent Affair of 1861.The upgrade of the Halifax defences and the resulting economic benefits had a significant impact on the community of Halifax.
The West Curtain is a very good example of a specialized, defensive military structure integral to a permanent mid-19th century bastioned masonry fortification. Its defensive characteristics are exemplified by its low profile, reinforced, massive construction, and other protective features. It was designed as accommodation and storage and for smoothbore ordnance that was placed on the terreplein above. This functional structure also exhibits good craftsmanship and materials.
The West Curtain reinforces the present military character of the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site setting and is well known to staff and visitors within the Citadel.
Rhona Goodspeed assisted by Edgar Tumak, Consultant, The Citadel, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Volume One, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Building Report 95-001.
The West Curtain (including Casemates Nos. 7-14 and 53-56), Halifax Defence Complex, Halifax, Nova Scotia Heritage Character Statement 95-001.
The character-defining elements of the West Curtain should be respected, for example:
The specialized structure of good functional design and good quality materials, for example:
-The long, low massing and profile of the structure.
-The exterior escarp wall of rubble ironstone masonry, 25 feet high (7.6 meters) and pierced at either end by two gun ports flanked by loopholes, and two almost centrally placed doorways.
-The retaining wall of granite ashlar pierced by 13 large openings with semi circular-arches, some enclosed and accessed by doors, topped with a sandstone coping.
-The interior casemates with brick, vaulted, bombproof ‘Calder’ type roofs consisting of three rings with counter-flagging with granite slabs and both ends hipped, and a shaped earthen cover topped with grass.
-The granite surrounds of all the openings, the ventilation system between the floor and the back walls and the fireplaces.
The manner in which the West Curtain reinforces the present military character of the setting within Halifax Citadel National Historic Site and is a familiar landmark within the fort, as evidenced by:
-The specialized military design and materials that maintain a visual and physical relationship between the West Curtain, the Ditch and the interior of the main body of the fort.
-Its visibility to visitors and to staff within the fort.