Description of Historic Place
The Lunenburg Academy, built between 1893-1895, is a massive, three-storey wooden Victorian building in the eclectic tradition, boldly painted in red, black and white in the town of Lunenburg, NS. It is located in a key location at the top of Gallows Hill, and is visible from most viewpoints when approaching Lunenburg. It still functions as a public school for the primary level, and it is surrounded by an open playground area. The building and property are included in the designation.
Lunenburg Academy is valued for its significance both historically and architecturally, and as both a local and national landmark. Desgined by well-known New Brunswick architect H.H. Mott and built by the Oxford Furniture Company between 1893-1895, the Academy is a monument to the historical development of Nova Scotia's educational system. Along with the Old New Town School in Lunenburg, it provides an architectural example of the evolution of education in nineteenth century Nova Scotia from one-room schoolhouses to the Academy system. It is the only surviving building from the Nova Scotia Academy system that continues to operate as a school, serving as Lunenburg's primary school.
The Academy is one of the very few large scale wooden buildings in Canada still surviving from the nineteenth century. Its unique and picturesque design makes it an excellent representation of late Victorian eclectic architecture. Except for a missing tower and the new cedar shingle roof, the exterior remains intact. Many interior features also remain, including wainscoting, stairways and banisters, detailed hinges and doorknobs, and the layout of classrooms and cloakrooms.
The Academy's imposing form and prominent towers can be seen for miles around, and it is visible from many approaches to Lunenburg. It is often referred to as 'the Castle on the Hill' and it is one of the most striking of Lunenburg's large stock of nineteenth century buildings. The colour scheme of the building - white, black and red - helps to bring out the details of the exterior and make it even more visible within the streetscapes and view planes of Lunenburg.
Source: Provincial Heritage Property program files, no. 27, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Character-defining elements of the exterior of Lunenburg Academy include:
- expanse of space around the building and prominent location on Gallows Hill overlooking Lunenburg and surrounding area, adding to its landmark status;
- large scale of the building, standing three storeys high and complemented by the absence of closely neighbouring buildings;
- a cedar-shingled mansard roof derived from the French Empire style, with a massive central chimney;
- on the north and south side elevations, a single central bay built out in relief and flanked by segmental dormer windows;
- large projecting frontispiece flanked by towers on both east and west elevations; the west has two towers and the east one tower;
- towers are flanked by segmental dormer windows;
- horizontal definition given by moulded belt courses, and vertical definition by pediments of varying design over the doors and pedimented windows, and the towers;
- detailed ornamentation including small ovaloid portholes on the sides of each uppermost central window on the side elevations, intricate bracketry on all windows and under the eaves, and decorative shinglework enriching the exterior texture;
- contrasting paint scheme of black, red and white.
Character-defining elements of the interior of Lunenburg Academy include:
- original wooden wainscoting, stairs, and banisters;
- original hinges and doorknobs;
- original layout of the rooms.