Description of Historic Place
The Lyle House, located in Port Clyde, Nova Scotia is nestled beside the road, facing the Clyde River. The white shingled house with a front vestibule is a fine example of the Greek Revival style in rural Nova Scotia. Municipal heritage designation, given July 4, 1984, applies to the house, outbuilding, woodshed and land.
The Lyle House is valued for its age; its location facing the Clyde River; its associations with the Smith and Lyle families; its relatively unaltered simple Greek Revival style; and for its associated historic outbuildings.
This property, on which the Lyle House stands, was first granted to Elkanah Smith, who came to Nova Scotia from Chatham, Massachusetts, circa 1762. It is thought Smith, who was a stonemason and mariner, built what is now known as the Densmore House circa 1784 on that land. Smith sold the land to Gavin Lyle in 1798. Gavin, with his brother John, were Loyalists who moved to Nova Scotia from New York State following the American Revolution. John was an officer in the 4th Dragoons and both brothers were in the famed Battle of Bunker Hill. John received a 200 acre grant in Shelburne, while Gavin settled in Port Clyde and purchased the Smith property. Here Gavin lived with his wife Elizabeth (Clark) and their five children, including John and Gavin Jr. The brothers were shipwrights and possibly operated a small shipyard on the site. Circa 1820 it is thought that Gavin constructed what is now known as the Lyle House next to the existing Densmore House. Here Gavin lived with his first wife Elizabeth McNutt whose daughter Drusilla married Charles Swansburg and the house has remained in this line of the family to present day. Other than necessary repairs and upgrades, this house remains much as it did when it was constructed.
The house’s simple Greek Revival style gives the small home a refined appearance. The front portico with its pedimented entablature and sidelights are clear illustrations of the style. The house has also retained its Doric cornerboards, wide frieze band and simple window trim. The side addition, set slightly back from the main house, was built in the same Greek Revival style as the main house.
This historic place also includes a small stone outbuilding and woodshed. It is thought that the stone outbuilding was constructed in the same period as the neighbouring Densmore House. It is thought that Elkanah Smith, stonemason, built the Densmore House, and the stones used to construct this building closely resemble that used in the first storey of the Densmore House. It is also thought that this outbuilding was built by Smith circa 1784. Such functional buildings have often been lost over time, demolished to give way to newer forms and better serve changing needs of property owners. The woodshed is a good example of function-based structures and today serves more as a storage shed.
Source: Municipality of the District of Barrington, heritage designation files, Lyle House file.
Character-defining elements of the Lyle House include:
- front vestibule with pediment and sidelights;
- six-over-six wooden windows;
- gable roof;
- two-and-one-half storeys;
- Doric style pilasters;
- eave returns.
Interior character-defining elements of the Lyle House relate to all historical and original elements and include:
- small side closet on the right side of the fireplace in the front room;
- wooden panel doors through out, with carvings over some of the doors;
- original fireplaces;
- wooden trim and flooring;
- original hardware.
Other character-defining elements of the Lyle House include:
- location close to the road;
- front elevation facing Clyde River;
- wood clapboard cladding;
- small building to rear of main house made of cut stone, three sides built into hillside with gable roof and one wooden six-over-six window;
- original woodshed;
- close proximity to Densmore House.