Description of Historic Place
Thorndean is a three-storey Georgian residence built in 1834. It is located on Inglis Street in the South End neighbourhood of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The building and property are included in the provincial designation.
Thordean is valued because since its erection in the mid-1830s, it has remained a landmark in the South End of Halifax, both visually and for the social life that took place in this building and its gardens. It is also valued because its restoration has become a symbol for the conservation and re-use of older buildings in Halifax.
In 1786, Jonathan Tremain, a Loyalist from New York, purchased the land for the purpose of establishing a rope walk. The property, later known as Thorndean, was passed on to Jonathan's third son, John, a prominent merchant, who built a home there in 1834.
Tremain sold the house to James Forman, who was the first cashier at the Bank of Nova Scotia. In 1870 Forman was discovered to have embezzled over $300,000 from the bank during the thirty-eight years he worked there. To repay the bank, Forman signed over Thorndean and all its contents to be auctioned. The estate was purchased by John S. Maclean, a Halifax merchant and ship owner, and at the time the president of the Bank of Nova Scotia. He lived at Thorndean until his death in 1898. His wife stayed on until she passed away in 1914.
Later owners of Thorndean were the Burrells, the Barrys, and the Robertsons. Acquired in 1967 by the Rosinskis, the house has undergone extensive conservation. Most of the original features have been restored, bringing to light the development of a dwelling from the early nineteenth century through several architectual styles closely linked with the expansion of the city. To meet the challenge of urbanization, Thorndean has been converted into five rental units. Rosinski sold Thorndean in 1973 and the tenants, who wanted to remain in their respective units, formed a company to acquire the house.
Architecturally, Thorndean is valued as an example of Georgian style incorporating other local traditional elements, such as Scottish dormers. The house has a Greek Revival front door remodelled in 1860, and a two-storey west wing remodelled in Italianate style sometime between 1870 and 1880. The house has stone gable walls on each end and a wood front façade with wood details. Thorndean features a five bay balance with nice proportions. The property is surrounded by a wrought iron fence with spear heads between granite block pillars and a stone wall.
Thorndean has become a symbol for the present restoration movement that is playing such an important role in the conservation and re-use of older buildings in Halifax.
Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 92, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Character-defining elements relating to the Georgian style architecture of Thorndean include:
- Scottish dormers in the local tradition on front and rear roofs;
- stone gable walls on east and west ends;
- one-and-a-half storeys;
- wooden square corner columns on the front elevation;
- semi-circular window in front central gable detail;
- front wood façade with wood details;
- symmetrical five bay front façade with central entrance transom and side lights;
- drop detail below the eave on front center gable;
- two end chimneys;
- plain details on the eaves and fascia;
- four 6/6 windows with shutters on the façade;
- wrought iron fence with spear heads between granite block pillars and a stone wall;
- formal sunken garden with a pool incorporating salvaged parts of the original fountain in the backyard.