Description of Historic Place
The Gardenia Lodge-Savary House is located on Highway 101 in Plympton, Nova Scotia. This two-and-a-half storey, New England Colonial-style house was built in 1820. Located just across the road from the Savary Provincial Park, the Gardenia Lodge-Savary House has a commanding view of St. Mary's Bay. The house, barn and three acres of property surrounding these buildings are included in the provincial designation.
The Gardenia Lodge-Savary House is valued for its intimate association with the descendants of Loyalists Nathan and Deidamia Savary, and especially the Honourable Alfred William Savary, LL.D.
The Gardenia Lodge-Savary House was built in 1820 by Sabine Savary. Sabine was the son of Massachusetts Loyalist Nathan Savary and his wife, Deidamia, who settled on the Sissiboo grant. Along with farming, Sabine prospered as a notable shipbuilder, ship owner and merchant. The Savary House was the centre of his diversified enterprise. In one wing of the house, Sabine operated a general store and ship chandlery. The barn stored farm produce and served as a warehouse for larger ships’ stores. Some few hundred yards to the rear, in the woods, a sawmill on Savary Brook cut out lumber for building the fast schooners and brigantines which Sabine operated in the "Boston trade": the thriving shipping-based economy between the Maritimes and New England. With wealth and domestic opulence, Sabine acquired social status. Thirty years before Sabine's death, the "Boston trade" evaporated. In his later years, Sabine's commercial transactions were confined largely to trade across the Bay of Fundy, with occasional brigantines sent to the West Indies. No more ships were built at Savary Point. The enterprises shrank to the store and farming; the mill was allowed to rot away.
The Savary House is best known as the birthplace and childhood home of the Honourable Alfred William Savary, LL.D, Sabine's only son. Alfred studied law and practiced first in St. John, New Brunswick and then in Digby, Nova Scotia. He was the first Member of Parliament for Digby in the first two Parliaments convened after Confederation in 1867. In 1870, he was appointed Queen's Counsel and in 1876 appointed judge of the newly established county court for the three western counties of Nova Scotia. His career on the bench was long and distinguished. He was also responsible for re-naming St. Mary's Bay Village as Plympton. The bronze plaque by the front door, placed there by the Province in 1957, does honour to a remarkable figure in Canada's life.
Sabine had four children, three daughters and one son, but left this house to his unmarried daughter and his second daughter, Eliza Helen, the wife of James R. Garden. James and Eliza had one child, Alfred William Savary Garden, who had a long and fruitful ministry as an Episcopalian clergyman in the United States. The Reverend Alfred Garden acquired the house and land from his mother and aunt and began restoring it. His widow, Maude Garden, carried on this work and gave the shore land to the Province in 1962 for Savary Provincial Park. The Savary House is currently owned by a descendant of Sabine Savary.
The Savary House is a two-and-a-half storey, New England Colonial-style house with a five bay front façade. The frame is 12x12 white pine, hand hewn and pegged, the work done by Sabine Savary and his shipwrights. Originally there were four rooms of the same size on both storeys with the centre traversing the corridors and stairwell. The single storey "shop" on the east end is as old as the house but its second storey was added in 1936-37. A summer kitchen and a small rear wing were built in the 1920s, as was a rear enclosed porch a decade later. It is unknown when the front vestibule was added. At the rear of the house is the barn which is believed to be original to the house.
The Gardenia Lodge-Savary House is one of the largest and oldest houses in Digby County. Opposite the property is the Savary Provincial Park which includes the Savary family cemetery and the remains of the Savary shipyard. The house is unquestionably a landmark on Highway 101 as it runs along the inner shore of St. Mary's Bay from Digby to Cape St. Mary's.
Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 116, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Character-defining elements of the Gardenia Lodge-Savary House relating to its New England Colonial style include:
- two-and-a-half storey wood construction;
- form and massing;
- five bay front façade;
- 12 x 12 white pine, hand hewn and pegged frame;
- summer kitchen, rear wing and front vestibule addition;
- clad in clapboard;
- three chimneys;
- prominent location across from family cemetery and provincial park;
- wooden barn.