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Halifax Academy Building

1649 Brunswick Street; Halifax, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1983/12/06

Halifax Academy, Halifax, NS, front elevation, 2005.; Heritage Division, Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005.
Front Elevation
Halifax Academy, Halifax, NS, round headed window and detailing, 2004.; Heritage Division, Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004.
Round Headed Window
Halifax Academy, Halifax, NS, rear elevation, 2004.; Heritage Division, Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004.
Rear Elevation

Other Name(s)

Halifax Academy Building
Halifax Academy

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1878/01/01 to 1878/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/08/16

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Halifax Academy Building is prominently located on the busy corners of Brunswick and Sackville in downtown Halifax, NS. The Academy is a solid, three storey, red brick building built in the Second Empire style. The provincial designation applies to the land and the building.

Heritage Value

Historical Value:

Built in 1878, the Halifax Academy Building is valued for its historical associations with the Dalhousie Law School, the oldest university-affiliated common law school in the British Commonwealth and for its associations with its founders, Richard Weldon and Benjamin Russell. The Academy was originally built to be used as a permanent high school in the expanding core of Halifax. However, in 1883 since there was no room for a law faculty on the main Dalhousie campus, Weldon and Russell rented two rooms on the ground floor of the building to permit law classes to commence. Weldon was the chief organizer and driving force behind the establishment of the Dalhousie Law School, and later went on to become the first dean for the Law School. Russell, a Halifax lawyer and part-time journalist, was the other driving force of the new school.

Architectural Value:

The Halifax Academy Building is valued for its architecture and its associations with the prominent architect Henry Busch. Busch favoured the Second Empire building style and the locally well-known Academy reflects this preference with some Italianate stylistic influences. The building is a good example of the Second Empire style in a public building and has a mansard roof, red brick construction and a modestly detailed symmetrical exterior. The style and elements ultimately complement other surrounding brick buildings of the same period. The front facade exhibits a central tower over the main entrance and a contemporary addition to the rear of the building complements the original building and utilizes similar red brick construction.

Source: Provincial Heritage Property Files, no. 23.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of Halifax Academy include:

- unpainted, patterned, red brick construction;
- cut sandstone sills;
- course granite foundation;
- all elements related to its Second Empire style including the mansard roof with projecting dormers; the central entrance pavilion and two end pavilions; the five bay facade; the central tower;
- all elements which relate to its Italianate stylistic influences including its detailed, symmetrical exterior style and round headed windows;
- prominent location on the corner of Brunswick and Sackville Streets.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Province of Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Provincially Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Learning and the Arts
Building Social and Community Life
Education and Social Well-Being

Function - Category and Type


Commerce / Commercial Services


Post-Secondary Institution

Architect / Designer

Henry Frederick Busch



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Provincial Registry found at Heritage Property Program, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS B3H 3A6

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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