Description of Historic Place
The Ebenezer Corning Jr. House is a two-and-a-half storey wood frame New England Colonial style house, built between 1787 and 1805 and owned by Ebenezer Corning Jr., whose parents belonged to one of the earliest New England Planter families to settle in Yarmouth Township. The Corning Jr. House is located on one of the highest points of land in Yarmouth, making it an obvious architectural and visual landmark. The building and a portion of the property are included in the provincial designation.
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, which arrived in 1764 and contributed greatly to the early settlement. It is also valued for its age and its New England Colonial architecture. The Corning Jr. House is among the oldest dwellings in Yarmouth County and one that has remained largely unaltered since its erection.
Ebenezer Corning Jr. came to Yarmouth with his parents as a six year old child in 1764 and grew up in Yarmouth. Though he married Elizabeth Foote in 1799, it seems they continued to live with his father, first on the original family homestead at Chegoggin and then when his father moved sometime around 1785-90 to settle on his recently granted lands to the north of where the Corning Jr. House now stands. Corning Jr. was a mariner, fisherman and farmer, which were occupations necessary for survival in what was essentially still a wilderness area at that time.
The date of construction of Corning Jr. House is unclear. It is also unclear as to whether or not the house was built on this present lot or moved there. The records from the Court of General Sessions indicate that this land had been cleared by Ebenezer Corning Jr. but that no house was on the lot in 1799. Further deeds indicate that Ebenezer Jr. did not actually become the owner of this cleared land until 1804. A mortgage obtained by Ebenezer Corning in 1805 may indicate the year when this house at 405 Pleasant Street was built or moved onto this lot. Structural evidence suggests that this house may have been moved to this site from another location and that its actual age extends back further than its arrival on its present location. It may, or may not, be the house of Ebenezer Corning Sr. built circa 1787-1790 and moved a short distance through the open fields to this property.
The house later passed into the hands of Corning Jr.'s daughter Elizabeth and her husband Captain Amos Baker in 1825. Captain Baker was a master mariner and Justice of the Peace. Baker died in 1885, leaving the house to his wife Elizabeth, and then upon her death, the house became the property of his nephew Amos Baker Brown. Elizabeth died in 1865 and the house went to Brown, and not until 1891 did the house pass out of the descendants of Ebenezer Jr.
From 1902 to 1922, the owner of the property was Joseph K. Durkee. Durkee was a well known painter and interior decorator of ships and public buildings in the Yarmouth area. The current owners purchased the house in 1982.
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 apart 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.
The Ebenezer Corning Jr. House is one of the oldest dwellings in this part of Yarmouth County and has survived the years without any major exterior alterations.
Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 159, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Character-defining elements of the Ebenezer Corning, Jr. House include:
- location near the town's north boundary on a high point of land;
- setback from the street on a generous lot;
- use as a residential building.
Character- defining elements relating to the New England Colonial style architecture of the Ebenezer Corning, Jr. House include:
- two-and-a-half storey, wood frame, mortise and tenon construction;
- steeply pitched gable roof with simple moulded fascia-board trim on main house;
- steeply pitched gable roof without eaves or vergeboard overhang on the ell;
- large central chimney;
- original arrangement of chimneys and fireplaces;
- 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;
- 6/6 glazing in attic storey and ell windows;
- 6/1 glazing in first and second storey windows of main house;
- shingle wood shingle cladding and simple corner-boards with capitals;
- stone foundation.