Description of Historic Place
Eisenhauer House is a two-and-a-half storey, Cape Cod style building built into a steep hillside. Located on Borgels Point Road in Chester Basin, Nova Scotia, it is one of the oldest houses remaining in this area. The building and property are included in the provincial designation.
Eisenhauer House is valued for its unique form of construction and for its historical associations with both the New England Planter and German settlement in the area.
The construction date of Eisenhauer House is uncertain but a deed search turned up a document dated 1779 showing that a house was on the property at that time. While it is not certain that the Eisenhauer House is the house mentioned, an analysis of the architectural style seems to make such a date possible.
The site on which Eisenhauer House sits was later deeded by John and Virtue Vaughan to their daughter and son-in-law John and Mary Pulsifer in 1784. Both the Vaughan and Pulsifer families represent the early New England presence in the Chester Township.
In 1823, following the death of John Pulsifer, the property was sold to George Eisenhauer. The property remained in the ownership of Eisenhauer's descendants for one hundred and seventy-two years. Throughout the nineteenth century, the Eisenhauers were referred to as farmers though it is likely that they were involved in the fisheries. Architectural evidence suggests that the structure's current appearance dates to the early nineteenth century and is probably the result of major renovations done by Eisenhauer shortly after his purchase in 1823. The Eisenhauer's represent the "foreign Protestant", or German and Swiss-German, element in the settlement of Lunenburg County.
This two-and-a-half storey Cape Cod style house was built of post and beam construction, with the first floor partially built into an earthen hill on the building's rear elevation. One interesting detail of the house is a hidden staircase located behind the large, original fireplace on the main level. It was the original staircase leading to what was probably an unfinished attic. When the renovations were done circa 1823, Eisenhauer built new staircases to serve both floors, the lower floor to the second level and to the attic. Hidden staircases like this were said to have been used as escape routes in case of an attack on the settlement.
This unique house is one of the oldest houses in Chester Basin. It is in excellent overall condition and there have not been any significant alterations made to the original structure.
Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 200, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Exterior character-defining elements of Eisenhauer House include:
- two-and-a-half storey wood frame construction;
- post and beam construction;
- built into a steep hillside with the rear of the lower entry level built into the hill;
- gable roof;
- main entrance slighty off centre on the front elevation;
- slightly asymmetrical arrangement of windows on either side of the main entrance;
- small pediment projects over the entrance;
- central chimney, aligned with the entrance;
- clad in wood shingles;
- rubble stone foundation.
Interior character-defining elements regarding the original circa 1779 construction date and the circa 1823 renovations of Eisenhauer House include:
- large kitchen fireplace, incorporating a beehive oven and split lathes (c. 1779)
- various moulding details include various reed patterns on the surrounds of doorways and wall shelf, and the mantel (c. 1823)
- stairs running from the second to third floor, enclosed in an inacccessible space, adjacent to the chimney structure (made redundant with the c. 1823 renovations).