Description of Historic Place
The Ebenezer Corning, Jr., House is a simple two storey New England Colonial style house, probably built between 1787 and 1805 and owned by Ebenezer Corning, Jr., whose parents were one of the earliest New England Planter families to settle in Yarmouth Township. It is located in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia near the northern boundary of the town. The municipal heritage designation applies to the house and the residential lot it occupies.
The Ebenezer Corning, Jr. House is valued for its historic association with Ebenezer Corning, Jr., a member of one of the earliest New England Planter families to settle in Yarmouth Township in 1764 and who contributed greatly to the early settlement; and with Joseph K. Durkee, a noted painter/decorator in the Yarmouth area for many years. It is also valued for its New England Colonial architecture, which has had very little alteration since its construction.
Ebenezer Corning, Jr. came to Yarmouth with his parents as a six year old child in 1764. He grew up in Yarmouth and married there in 1799, and presumably built his house soon thereafter. Corning was a mariner, fisherman and farmer, occupations necessary to survive in what was essentially still a wilderness area at that time. That he cleared the land for his house himself is apparent from references, in the Courts of General Sessions records, to a road that was laid out in 1799. Mention is made that the road was to run to “Ebenezer Corning Junr. cleared land,” not to a homestead , indicating that the house was not there at that time. Ownership of the property remained within the extended family of Corning until 1892, when it was sold out of the family altogether.
Joseph Kenney Durkee was a well known man in the Yarmouth area during his lifetime. He died at age 85 and his obituary from the ‘Yarmouth Herald’ of Dececember 12, 1922 states: “Mr. Durkee was born at Pleasant Valley [Yar. Co.] and for a few years in his younger life followed the sea. His seafaring career, however, was very brief as he retired from that and took up the work of painter decorator. That was many years ago in the days of wooden ships and for some time Mr. Durkee was almost continuously in the employ of Yarmouth’s old time shipping firms, painting the exterior and decorating the interior of many of the fine ships which sailed from this port. With the decline of shipbuilding Mr. Durkee turned his attention to shore work, and his handy work in many churches, schools and halls of this county will, for years to come, be a lasting memorial to his artistic ability.”
The New England Colonial style of architecture is fairly well represented in the general Yarmouth area; however, the relatively unaltered state of this house sets it off from any others in the town. Few, if any other houses of this vintage still retain their original arrangement of chimneys and fireplaces, or their simple, unadorned exterior appearance as this house does. With the exception of the change from six-light lower window sashes to single-light lower window sashes in the main house, this home probably appears almost exactly as it did when it was originally built. There is some structural evidence which suggests that this house may have been moved to this site from another location. If it was moved, it may have belonged to Ebenezer Corning, Sr. and been built as early as 1787.
Source: Municipal Heritage Property files: the Ebenezer Corning, Jr. House; located at 400 Main Street, Yarmouth, NS.
The character defining elements of the Ebenezer Corning, Jr. House include:
- location near the town’s north boundary;
- setback from the street on a generous lot;
- residential building.
The character defining elements of the New England Colonial style architecture of the Ebenezer Corning, Jr. House include:
- two storey, wood frame, mortise and tenon construction;
- steeply pitched gable roof with simple moulded facia-board trim on main house;
- steeply pitched gable roof without eaves or verge overhang on ell;
- large central chimney;
- one storey ell wrapping around northeast corner of main house;
- symmetrical three bay façades on main house and on ell;
- off-centre main entrance with a simple crown;
- secondary entrance in north gable end of ell;
- double hung sash windows;
- second storey and ell windows tight to the eaves;
- six-over-six glazing in attic storey and ell windows;
- six-over-one glazing in first and second storey windows of main house;
- shingle cladding and simple corner-boards with capitals;
- stone foundation.