Description of Historic Place
The Old Yarmouth Academy is located on Main Street in Yarmouth, in the oldest section of the town, and has been restored in recent years. This Greek Revival style building was constructed in 1831 and is one of the oldest purpose-built schoolhouses in the province and in Canada. The building and property are included in the provincial designation.
The Old Yarmouth Academy is valued as the oldest school building still standing in Yarmouth County and one of the oldest extant school buildings in Canada. It is also valued for its Greek Revival style of architecture, its restoration, and subsequent reuse in more recent years.
The Old Yarmouth Academy was built in 1830-1831 as a schoolhouse, a relatively rare event in Nova Scotia in the early 1800s. It was designed by James B. Dane and built by Edward Huestis. The Academy was opened on September 10, 1832, though the second storey was not completed until 1833, and its use as a schoolhouse continued until 1864, when the Education Act was passed in Nova Scotia leading to the construction of more schools and more school districts as within the town boundaries.
In 1864 the Old Yarmouth Academy was sold to John W. Moody who had it moved closer to the street and used it as an auction house and offices for a time. It was later divided into apartments and remained as such for more than one hundred years and through several changes of ownership. The building was designated as a municipal heritage property in 1984, but after the death of the owner in 1989, the building sat vacant for several years. By 1992 it was in a derelict condition and the Town of Yarmouth, appreciating its historical importance, purchased it and restored it.
The restoration project was carried out over the following two years and in 1994 the building was designated a provincial heritage property. After the restoration, a long term lease was negotiated with the Victorian Order of Nurses who maintained their offices there until 1999. In 2001, unable to find another tenant, the Town decided to sell the property. Since then, the Old Yarmouth Academy has been in use as a tea room and gift shop, thus continuing the use of this historically important building.
Source: Provincial Heritage Property files, no. 187, Heritage Division, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Character-defining elements of the Old Yarmouth Academy include its:
- location in the oldest area of the Town of Yarmouth;
- restored condition to reflect its original appearance;
- proximity to street.
Character-defining elements of the Old Yarmouth Academy relating to its Greek Revival architecture style include:
- stone foundation;
- two storeys;
- wood construction and clapboard cladding;
- medium pitched gable roof;
- pedimented gable on the facade;
- wide eaves with moulded dentils;
- classical frieze with triglyphs and metopes;
- asymmetrical four bay facade with a centred entrance and an off-centre entrance;
- full width entablature over first storey bays;
- four light transom over centre door;
- double hung sash windows;
- upper storey windows tight to frieze;
- six-over-six glazing in most windows;
- half round window in front pediment;
- corner- and base-board trim;
- "ACADEMY" sign centred in front frieze.