Description of Historic Place
The Bower is a two storey house with a distinctive mansard roof. Located in the South End of Halifax, NS, the house is known as one of the oldest and most unique in the city. The provincial designation applies to the house and the property.
The Bower, by definition; a fancy rustic cottage, is valued as one of the oldest residential buildings in Halifax, as well as for its historical associations and for its unique appearance. The house is also valued for its architecture and the evolution from a simple cottage to a mansard roof house with a library.
The house was built ca. 1790 as a simple, one-and-one-half storey pitched roof cottage on a large estate in Halifax's South End; one of the highest points in that part of the Halifax peninsula. The house was built by prominent surgeon John Halliburton, a Rhode Island Loyalist and later member of His Majesty's Nova Scotia Council.
John Halliburton’s son, the well-known and influential Chief Justice Sir Brenton Halliburton was the next resident. Judge Halliburton sat in judgment at the Joseph Howe seditious libel trial, where despite Halliburton’s urging otherwise, the jury acquitted Howe. Halliburton’s son maintained an opposition to Howe’s views and in 1842 challenged him to a duel.
Judge Halliburton died in 1860 and the property was sold to prominent banker James C. Cogswell, founder of the Bank of Nova Scotia. The house passed to Cogswell's daughter after his death in 1867. By 1888 it was still an impressive estate of seven acres with a porter's cottage, stables, coach house and main dwelling house of ten rooms, excluding kitchens, cellars and closets. Later the house was owned by W.A.B. Ritchie. It was here that his son Charles started to write his now famous diary, “Appetite for Life.” His brother Roland Ritchie was also a Chief Justice of the Province.
During World War I the Canadian National Railway carved a line through the city from Fairview to Barrington Street. The resulting fill was used to create land that now houses Pier 21, the Nova Scotian Westin Hotel and the Canadian National Station. Bowery Road was cut in two and access to the Bower was permanently shifted to the north side of the building on a street named Rogers Drive after former Bower owner, lawyer Marshall Rogers. In 1935, Rogers had New York architect/interior decorator, Piers Brookfield, redesign the interior. In 1989, major structural restoration work was commenced by Halifax architect Jon Murray. Today the house remains one of the best known early and most unique residences in the city.
Source: Provincial Heritage Property File no. 115
Character-defining elements of the The Bower include:
- mansard roof on the main section and a pyramid roof on the library extension;
- symmetrical facade of main building;
- wood clapboard cladding;
- location in Halifax's South End;
- all original elements include portico entry, century chimney pots, original site orientation, and interior elements;
- two-over-two windows with 'eye brow' dormers on the second storey.
Location of Supporting Documentation
Provincial Heritage Property Files, Heritage Section, Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, N.S., B3H 3A6
Cross-Reference to Collection