Description of Historic Place
150 Church Street, also known as Grove Cottage, is a two storey house sitting far back off a residential street in Amherst, Nova Scotia. The house, built circa 1838, sits amid mature trees and gardens, and it serves as the Cumberland County Museum and Archives. The building and property are included in the municipal designation.
The value of 150 Church Street is found in its age and in its association with the early owners who had historical and political significance in Amherst, Nova Scotia, and Canada. The house is also a good example of an upper class Victorian home.
Historical Value: The building of Grove Cottage is attributed to Hon. Senator Robert Barry Dickey, 1811-1903. He is best known for being one of Amherst’s four Fathers of Confederation, but he was also a successful lawyer and judge, Registrar of Probate in Cumberland County, an elected member of the Nova Scotia Legislative Council, and an appointed member of the Senate.
Dickey’s parents, Robert McGowan Dickey and Eleanor Chapman, lived in the house when it was first built, and remained in the house even after the younger Dickey married in 1844, and moved in with his new wife Mary Blair. Robert McGowan Dickey, 1779-1854, was also active in politics. He was a member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly for the Amherst Township and for Cumberland County. He also held the posts of Justice of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas and Justice of the Peace.
Robert Barry Dickey raised his five children in this house, and two of his sons became involved in politics. His second son, Arthur Rupert Dickey, 1854-1900, was a Member of Parliament, Secretary of State, Minister of Militia and Defence, and Minister of Justice. The eldest son, James Alexander Dickey, 1849-1914, was a civil engineer who became Mayor of the Town of Amherst. He inherited the house in 1903, and sold it in 1905 after doing some renovations.
Architectural Value: Grove Cottage is an asymmetrical, two-storey house with a large pedimented dormer marking the classical doorway, and three smaller dormers decorated with fretwork. The pediment of the larger dormer is decorated with intricate woodwork. Although the house has endured a number of renovations over the years, some of its original elements can still be found. One of the earliest renovations were by Robert B. Dickey and included the addition of a side room, which he used as a law office, dormers and rear ell which added to be used as a summer kitchen and servants' quarters. When James Dickey inherited the house, he had the wide Victorian staircase installed and the front door glass etched with his initials.
Source: “Heritage Properties Amherst, 150 Church” File, Cumberland County Museum
Character-defining elements of 150 Church Street include:
- original location set far back from the street amid mature gardens and trees;
- historic form and massing, including additions and rear ell;
- original stone foundation;
- wood cladding and corner boards;
- original hand-planed floorboards;
- original hand hewn beams in downstairs ceiling;
- original door and window casings and folding shutters;
- original fireplaces, brass doorknobs and locks;
- classical entrance with transom and sidelights;
- initials "JAD" etched in glass of front door;
- dormers with fretwork and decorative woodwork.