Description of Historic Place
The Stayley Brown House is a two storey, Italianate style house built around 1864 for Stayley Brown, Member of the Legislative Council of Nova Scotia. It is located in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, on a large, well landscaped lot at the head of Yarmouth Harbour. Municipal heritage designation applies to the building and its residential lot.
The Stayley Brown House is valued for its historical associations with Hon. Stayley Brown, the artist Lucy Jarvis, and the modern association with Dr. Eleonore Bergmann-Porter. It is also valued for the intactness of its Italianate architecture.
Stayley Brown came to Yarmouth from Scotland in 1813 at age 12 with his parents and brother and eventually became a prominent businessman and shipowner in the town. In 1842 he was appointed to the Legislative Council and served in the Legislature’s Upper House for the next thirty-four years. From 1857 to 1860 he held the post of Receiver General and in 1874 he succeeded Hon. Alexander Keith as President of the Council, an office he held for one year before becoming Provincial Treasurer. He died suddenly at Halifax in 1877 at age 76.
In 1904 the Jarvis family rented this property from Miss Clara Caie, who was well known in Yarmouth for her acts of philanthropy, and the current owner. The Jarvis’ eight year old daughter, Lucy, was very much influenced by Miss Caie and her local art group, and the influence of this early tutelage in the Arts was to affect the rest of her life. The family moved in 1909, but Lucy returned to Yarmouth many times over the years, visiting with Miss Caie, between her studies at a number of art schools and her various art-oriented jobs, including that as Director of Art at the University of New Brunswick for fourteen years. In 1961 Lucy received a special Canada Council award. With this she spent a winter working in Paris and two weeks at the Salzburg summer seminar with Oskar Kokoschka; experiences which proved to be an important stimulation to her as a painter. By 1971 she was again living full time in the Yarmouth area, where her influence on the local arts community has been immeasurable. Lucy Jarvis died in 1985 a well and widely-known artist.
Dr. Eleonore Bergmann-Porter, a native of West Germany, bought this property in 1961. She had received her medical degree in Munich, Germany, later attained the Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians, Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons and Licentiate of the Royal Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons in Scotland and met her husband, “Lofty” Porter in London. After his retirement they decided to move to Canada and settled here in 1961. Dr. Bergmann-Porter was the first female doctor to practice at the Yarmouth hospital, and became an honorary member of the Canadian College of Family Physicians and a member of the Canadian Medical Association. In 1982 she had the distinction of being the first woman to be conferred the rank of Senior Member in the Medical Society of Nova Scotia.
The Italianate style architecture of the Stayley Brown House is exemplified by its two storey rectangular massing, its symmetrical facade and the bracketed cornices.
Source: Municipal Heritage Property files; Stayley Brown House; located at 400 Main Street, Yarmouth, NS.
The character defining elements of the Stayley Brown House include:
- location at the head of Yarmouth Harbour;
- single family dwelling;
- large, well landscaped lot.
The character defining elements of the Italianate style of the Stayley Brown House include:
- two storeys with a one-and-a-half storey back ell and a semi-enclosed breezeway connecting to garage on west side;
- wood construction and shingle cladding;
- medium pitched, truncated gable roof;
- centred front cross gable, return eaves and bracketed cornices;
- Scotch dormer in back;
- three inset chimneys on main roof, inset corbelled chimney on ell;
- symmetrical three bay facade;
- centred, conservatory-style front entry porch;
- centred Palladian window above entry porch;
- tripartite triangular-headed window in front gable;
- tripartite windows with double hung sashes in first and second storey of facade and west gable end;
- bracketed crowns on facade windows;
- one storey cutaway bay window in east gable end;
- acanthus shaped cutouts at apex of gabled crowns on first storey bays;
- six-over-six glazing in most windows in east gable end and back;
- granite block foundation.