Description of Historic Place
Oakes House is a two-and-one-half storey wooden structure situated on an elevated plot of land on the south side of Prospect Street, Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Its elaborate Queen Anne Revival architecture makes the house a landmark on the street. Only the building is included in the designation.
Oakes House is valued for its Queen Anne Revival style architecture and for its association to its first owner, Dr. Ingram B. Oakes and to its builder, Leslie Raymond Fairn.
As an architecturally distinct structure of the Wolfville community, Oakes House very noticeably displays the Queen Anne Revival style due to the large size of the building, its large veranda, corniced gables that form triangular pediments, and Palladian-style windows of both the front and side façades.
Highly esteemed Wolfville citizen, Dr. Ingram B. Oakes was involved in many facets of university and community life. Educated at Horton Academy and Acadia University, he devoted much of his life to education, first in New Brunswick as inspector of schools from 1879 to 1889 and then in Nova Scotia, where he served for ten years as principal of Horton Academy. Elected governor of Acadia in 1904, he was also chief census officer for Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and the agent for Nova Scotia and the Canadian government in England and Scotland in 1907. He also served as prothonotary of the Supreme Court, Clerk of the County Court, and Town Clerk of the town. Oakes was also a member of town council, the school board, and the Board of Trade.
Born in Waterville in 1875, architect Leslie Raymond Fairn trained in Boston, however upon gradation he promptly returned to Nova Scotia to work for Rhodes Curry Company before striking out for himself in 1907. Oakes House is one of his earliest accomplishments and he went on to supervise the construction of Acadia’s University Hall as well as many other buildings of the community, including McConnell Dining Hall, Raymond House, Acadia Hockey Rink, Vaughan Memorial Library, Beveridge Arts Centre, Huggins Science Hall, and the Town Hall. Often referred to as the Dean of Architects, he was a fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and his work can be seen throughout the Atlantic Provinces. That said, Fairn is perhaps best remembered as a mentor for aspiring architects and builders, many of whom he hired fresh from university, allowing him to stay abreast of new trends, materials and building methods.
Source: Town of Wolfville Heritage Property Program files, Oakes House file.
Character-defining elements of Oakes House relate to its Queen Anne Revival style and include:
- asymmetrical appearance;
- clapboard siding;
- steep-pitched gable roof;
- projecting pavilions on west and east walls;
- corniced gables that form triangular pediments;
- central gable with Palladian-style window and keystone set into decorative stucco of the central gable;
- wrap-around, open veranda supported by Doric columns;
- fixed circular window with four keystones on façade and the gables of pavilions;
- side tower with finial, brackets, and decorative drapery motif.