Description of Historic Place
50 Victoria Street East, also known as the Old Post Office and Customs Building, is a two-and-a-half storey civic building of stone masonry built in 1886. It stands on the north side of Amherst, Nova Scotia's main street in the downtown commercial district. The building and property are included in the municipal designation.
50 Victoria Street East is valued as a local landmark for its unique design elements, its association with local industry and artisans, and because it is part of a unique Maritime streetscape of stone buildings.
Historical Value: The Post Office and Customs Building was designed by Thomas Fuller, Chief Architect of the Dominion from 1881 to 1896, and built in 1886 by Rhodes, Curry Co., an important business in the industrial, commercial and architectural history of Amherst and Nova Scotia. The company had a reputation for quality of workmanship and craftsmanship, and was the contractor and builder of a number of grand homes and businesses in Amherst and throughout Nova Scotia. The company was also instrumental in the commercial development of late nineteenth century Amherst. The red sandstone used in the foundation was from a local quarry.
Thomas Fuller designed some 300 buildings across Canada and the United States, including the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, the New York State Capital Building, and San Francisco City Hall. He typically used the Romanesque style in buildings for smaller towns, so his use of Gothic Revival elements in Amherst’s Old Post Office and Customs Building is unique.
Architectural Value: This building is a local landmark and helps anchor one end of Amherst’s downtown core. The Romanesque large-scale massing, rough stone work, and symmetrical front contast with the asymmetrical side and rear elevations and the smooth finish of the quoins. Local artisans decorated the front of the building with a detailed floral carving. All of the main windows and doorways have pointed Gothic arches, and there are tall, narrow windows in the large side gable. The front plane of the steeply-pitched, flattened hip roof is broken by a large pedimented dormer with a double Gothic window. On the top of the roof sits a central four-faced clock tower with a domed roof sheathed in copper. The large high pointed gables and the even higher domed clock tower give a vertical feeling to this imposing landmark.
Source: “Heritage Properties Amherst, 50 Victoria East” File, Cumberland County Museum
Character-defining elements of 50 Victoria Street East include:
- local red sandstone building material;
- original form and massing;
- fine detailed floral carving;
- central clock topped with domed roof sheathed in copper;
- copper flashing at flattened roof line;
- located in Amherst's downtown core.
Character-defining Romanesque Revival elements of 50 Victoria East include:
- symmetrical front;
- large scale massing and rough-cut stone walls;
- bands of windows.
Character-defining Gothic Revival elements of 50 Victoria East include:
- steeply pitched gables;
- pointed-arch and tall narrow windows.