Description of Historic Place
Herbin's Jewellers is a two-and-one-half storey commercial wood structure in the Neo-classical style with Greek Revival details situated on the corner of Linden Avenue and Main Street in downtown Wolfville, Nova Scotia. With its elegant storefront and central location on the town’s busiest street, the business is a prominent landmark. Included in the designation are the building and its surrounding property.
The heritage value of Herbin's Jewellers lies in its relatively unaltered architectural style; its contribution to the surrounding streetscape; its historical associations; and in its continuity of ownership and use by one family.
One of Wolfville’s earliest stores, Herbin’s Jewellers, was established by John Frederick Herbin in 1885. A native of Windsor who went on to become one of Wolfville’s best-known citizens, Herbin was a man of diverse talents and interests. Author, poet, merchant, outdoor enthusiast, amateur geologist, and Mayor of Wolfville, Herbin also devoted much of his life to preserving the story of the Acadians and was an early proponent for a memorial in their honour, as his mother’s family were of Acadian descent and among those Acadians who were expelled from their home in Grand Pré in 1755.
Herbin’s business began in a building on the north side of Main Street in 1885. In 1895, Herbin purchased a property at the corner of Main Street and Linden Avenue but the building proved too small for his business and in 1898 he replaced it with a larger structure.
In addition to carrying jewellery, clocks and silverware, the store offered optician services and was equipped with appliances for that profession, including expensive instruments like an ophthalmoscope and retinoscope. By 1917, Herbin joined his store with the building next to it, creating a common storefront façade along Main Street.
The Herbin building displays a Neo-classical style with Greek Revival details, including Doric pilasters and delicate mouldings along the corners and the entrance ways of the first-storey section. With few architectural details changing over the years, Herbin’s Jewellers remains an impressive historic storefront of downtown Wolfville.
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the long-standing business is that it has remained in the Herbin family for more than one hundred and twenty-two years. After John Frederick Herbin died in 1923, his son Frederick took over the business. Frederick installed custom-made showcases that are still in use. When Frederick died in 1951, his son John took the helm, and in 1975, John’s son Peter became a member of the firm.
sources: Town of Wolfville Heritage Property Program files, Herbin’s Jewellers file.
Character-defining elements of Herbin's Jewellers relate to its Greek Revival style and include:
- clapboard siding with corner boards;
- asymmetrical four-bay façade;
- medium-pitched, truncated gable roof;
- returning eaves with fascia;
- corners and entrance ways of first-storey section accented with Doric pilasters and delicate mouldings;
- second-storey vertical sliding sash windows with shutters;
- wood panelling below first and second-storey windows;
- all original and historic interior elements relating to the building's use a s a jewellery store, including custom built display cabinets.