Description of Historic Place
The Morse-Magwood House sits prominently on the Granville Street, the main thoroughfare in Bridgetown, NS. It is a wood frame residence with Second Empire style detailing, including a distinctive mansard roof. Its ornate exterior makes it stand out from the surrounding residential and commercial buildings. The building and property are included in the provincial designation.
The Morse-Magwood House is valued as one of the finest examples of the Second Empire style and most picturesque homes in the province.
The land on which the Morse-Magwood House now stands was inherited by George Crosskill who sold this land to Leander Morse in 1875. A great grandson of the Planter grantee Abner Morse, Leander Stanley Morse was born in Nictaux, NS in 1843. After graduating from Acadia, he trained as a lawyer in the Wolfville office of Timothy D. Ruggles, was admitted to the bar in 1870, and established a Bridgetown practice in the same year. Morse had this impressive home constructed in 1871.
In 1888 Morse sold the house and property to Annie Freeman, the wife of Dr. Ingraham Freeman, a local doctor. The Freemans retained ownership until 1922. Since then other owners have included Mayhew Foster, an inspector of schools and more recently the late author, Beatrice Buszek.
The Morse-Magwood House is one of the best domestic examples of the Second Empire style in the province, and one of the most picturesque. The design may be an adaptation of a pattern book design issued by J. Bicknell and Company from which it differs only in window proportion and minor detailing.
Unlike many Second Empire houses in Nova Scotia, this building is asymmetrical in plan and massing; however it incorporates, in a sophisticated fashion, all the motifs associated with the style. The principal characteristic is the mansard roof, which in this case displays a less common convex profile. Second Empire detailing typically employs circles, ovals and triangles. In the Morse-Magwood House all these shapes are found alone and in combination, in the window heads, gable finish and dormer heads. Other elements of note include the shouldered architraves and the detail of the entrance porch, which in turn relates to various interior finish details.
Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 166
Character-defining elements of the Morse-Magwood House relate to all elements of Second Empire style and exterior decoration and include:
- asymmetrical plan and massing;
- two-and-one-half storeys;
- location close to road;
- mansard roof with uncommon convex profile;
- details employing geometry of circles, ovals and triangles found alone and in combination, in the window heads, gable finish and dormer heads;
- shouldered architraves;
- wood shingle cladding;
- wooden windows, trim and doors.