Description of Historic Place
Randall House is a late eighteenth-century, two-and-one-half storey, wooden Georgian style farmhouse located in Wolfville, NS. With its colourful exterior and central location on the corner of Main Street and Victoria Avenue, the home is a prominent fixture of the town. The house, which has retained its New England colonial character, is situated on a hill overlooking what used to be Wolfville’s bustling harbour, and to the west of what was once Mud Creek, which is now Willow Park. Included in the designation are the building and its surrounding property.
Randall House is valued for its role as a landmark on one of Wolfville’s main streets; its historic associations; its transformation from run-down dwelling to attractive residence; and its use as museum and community gathering place.
The construction date of Randall House is unclear. The property changed hands nine times between 1761 and 1780, which was not uncommon as people in the Horton Township frequently traded lots to consolidate their property. Beginning in 1769, the deeds to the Randall House property mention a dwelling; however, it is unclear if the dwelling is Randall House. In 1780, Thomas Caldwell of Horton purchased the land. In February 1786, he sold the property and its buildings, which included a dwelling, barn, and outhouses, to Halifax merchants Thomas, James, and William Cochrane. It is most likely during this period of ownership that Randall House was constructed.
Due to economic ebbs and flows, the property exchanged hands many times over the following year. Between 1808 and 1812, it was owned by Aaron Cleveland, a cooper who established his trade on the property. The lot's location in the commercial centre of Horton Township would have been an excellent spot for business. Charles Randall purchased the house in 1812 and the property stayed in his family for one hundred and fifteen years. However, by 1927 the years had taken their toll on the house, which was in such poor condition it had become virtually uninhabitable.
Charles Patriquin, a retired farmer, bought the property in 1927 and with the support of his wife and family, repaired the neglected building and transformed its tangled, unkempt yard into a robust vegetable garden that became a local attraction. Patriquin was often seen pushing a wheelbarrow laden with fresh vegetables from his garden to the Wolfville grocery store. He also maintained and a duck pond just below the slope of his garden where local children spent many happy hours. In 1947, he sold the house to the Wolfville Historical Society, and in May 1949, it became the town’s museum.
In its current role as museum, Randall House chronicles the every-day lives of people living in the Wolfville area at different historical periods and from all classes of society. Community gatherings and social events continue to be hosted each summer on its grounds. Wolfville citizens donate their time and money for the museum’s preservation and many have contributed furnishings and items to its diverse exhibits.
Source: Town of Wolfville Heritage Property Program files, Randall House file.
Character-defining elements of Randall House relate to its Georgian style and include:
- symmetrical five bay façade;
- clapboard siding with wide corner boards;
- steep-pitched gable roof;
- returning eaves with cornice;
- matching concrete chimneys;
- flat transom window with sidelights above front door;
- pedimented gable porch on Doric columns with latticed sides;
- all original interior elements including: dry wall stone cellar with earthen floor; bake oven; original floor; and seven original fireplaces.