Description of Historic Place
30 Hickman Street, also known as West Highlands School, is a large, two storey brick structure built circa 1911. It stands on a large open lot in an older residential area of Amherst, Nova Scotia. The school’s heavy red brick façade contrasts sharply with the neighbourhood’s wooden homes and church. The building and property are included in the municipal designation.
West Highlands School, valued for its age and for its historical, cultural, and architectural significance, is also regarded as essential to the character of the neighbourhood. The structure is also valued because it was designed by the well-known architect Leslie R. Fairn, and for its association with local industry.
Historical Value: During the latter part of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries, Amherst experienced a period of economic, commercial, and industrial expansion. The West Highlands School was built to accommodate the population growth in this area of the town. It remains on its original site, and is still used as a school. Leslie R. Fairn, a leading Maritime architect, designed the structure. Three of his many well-known buildings are the Administration Building at Acadia University in Wolfville, the Public Library in Halifax, and the Dominion Public Building in Amherst. West Highlands School was built circa 1911 by the Victor Wood Working Company, an Amherst business that constructed banks, churches and hospitals through out the Maritimes. The brick used for the new school came from near-by Pugwash.
Architectural Value: The school is a good example of the Romanesque Revival style with some distinctive Neo-Classical elements. A broad frontispiece breaks the plainness of the symmetrical building, and rises to include the roof and creates a large, truncated dormer. The frontispiece also has the heavily arched central entrance with a double door topped by an ornate fanlight. Semi-circular arches and blind fanlights also top the windows in the second storey of the frontispiece. The large hipped roof adds to the building’s feeling of width and weight. The school has massive proportions, but its smooth brick, simple lines, and decorative arches and fanlights give it a refined quality. The school is considered to be one of the few remaining examples of the Romanesque Revival architectural style that was commonly used in the province for educational buildings of this period, and has had few alterations.
Source: “Heritage Properties Amherst, 30 Hickman” File, Cumberland County Museum
Character-defining elements of 30 Hickman Street include:
- local red brick and reinforced concrete building materials;
- location in older, residential area of Amherst;
- two storeys;
- continued use as a school.
Character-defining Romanesque Revival elements of 30 Hickman include:
- symmetry and large scale massing of the building;
- heavy semi-circular arches over entrance and windows;
- bands of windows on both floors.
Character-defining Neo-Classical elements of 30 Hickamn include:
- box-like shape;
- ornate fanlights.