Description of Historic Place
The Sargent-Homer-Nodwell House is located on Highway No. 3 in Barrington, Nova Scotia. In the early days, the house sat in an advantageous position, as it was at the hub of the township. The building of the railway line from Yarmouth to Shelburne in the late nineteenth century changed the landscape and now, instead of this two-and-a-half storey wood and granite house being at the water's edge, it faces a railway causeway that has created a small bay in front of the house. The building and property are included in the provincial designation.
The Sargent-Homer-Nodwell House is valued because of its close historical association, from its erection around 1811, with the Sargent and Homer families, Loyalists from Massachusetts who settled in Barrington. The Sargent-Homer-Nodwell House is also valued as it is a rare example of a stone residence of a merchant that was used both for living and business purposes.
The builder of the Sargent-Homer-Nodwell House, John Sargent, was a loyalist from Salem, Massachusetts. On both sides of his family, he was descended from prominent Massachusetts families. The family divided at the onset of the American Revolution. John Sargent remained loyal. During the siege of Boston in 1775, he and one of his brothers fought on different sides. On the British evacuation of Boston, Sargent first went to England, but returned shortly afterwards to join a Loyalist regiment. He ended the war as a commissary in the West Indies.
In 1783, Sargent came to Nova Scotia as a Loyalist. Governor John Parr made him a customs official for Shelburne and a Justice of the Peace. He spent some time traveling around the province to find a suitable location to establish a West Indian trading business. He selected Barrington, possibly because it had been settled by Massachusetts fishermen in the 1760s. He seems to have arrived with considerable capitol because he was able to establish himself quickly at Barrington. In 1792, he erected the only grist mill in the township. The following year he entered the Nova Scotia House of Assembly and sat for Barrington Township until 1818.
Around 1811, John Sargent constructed the Sargent-Homer-Nodwell House. The house was sited next to his grist mill and at the water's edge. The stone ground floor of the house seems to have served as his business premises; a common practice followed in his day by merchants.
On John Sargent's death in 1824, the house and grist mill passed to his wife, Margaret, and on her death the house went to their son, Winthrop. In 1834, the house came into the ownership of the Crowell family when Asa Doane Crowell, purchased it. He conveyed it to his son and well known merchant, George Crowell, who died in 1914.
The subsequent owner of the property was Arthur C. Homer, who lived there until 1944. There was a long-standing connection between the Homer and Sargent families in business and through marriage. In 1776, on the British evacuation of Boston, Joseph Homer came to Barrington as an early Loyalist. He later became clerk to John Sargent.
From 1944 until 1969, Annie (Homer) Wilson owned the house and from it operated the Barrington Registry of Deeds and Probate Office. In 1969, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Nodwell of Massachusetts, purchased the house as a summer home and owned the house until 2003.
Though the grist mill is no longer standing, this two and a half storey wood and granite house, built into a hillside, is one of the oldest houses still standing today in Barrington.
Source: Provincial Heritage program property files, no. 180, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Exterior character-defining elements of the Sargent-Homer-Nodwell House include:
- two-and-a-half storey structure built into a hillside with the grade falling a full storey from back to front;
- ground floor constructed of cut granite;
- wood framing in upper levels;
- long, one storey wing attached to the west, of wood frame construction;
- main structure clad with wood shingles;
- wing clad with clapboard;
- main entrance has deep splay;
- 6/6 windows;
- original cornerboard and cornice detailing.
Interior character-defining elements of the Sargent-Homer-Nodwell House include:
- 6-panel doors;
- exterior box locks;
- balustrade and panels beneath window casings;
- horizontal board dado at ground floor level;
- beaded mouldings in closet door casings at attic level;
- simply jointed and pegged rafters.