Description of Historic Place
Constructed circa 1817 Rosebank Cottage is an English Vernacular home with strong Cape Cod architectural themes positioned at the top of a large hill beside Highway 12 passing through New Ross, Nova Scotia. The Municipal Heritage Designation applies to the building and property.
Rosebank cottage is valued for its relation to the history of the settlement of the interior of Nova Scotia and for its association with the Ross family. The home was constructed in the period following the War of 1812 by disbanded soldiers; some sources suggest it was constructed under the guidance of the group’s military carpenter, Jacob Hiltz. The home was constructed for Captain William Ross, the leader of the disbanded company that started the Sherbrooke settlement, which is now known as New Ross. The home, the first to be built in the community, is built on part of the 800 acre land grant issued to Captain Ross by the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, Sir George Ramsay . Ross unfortunately was unable to enjoy his new home for long. He died not long after construction was completed. His widow Mary and their children continued to live there and operate the farm. Members of the Ross family lived in the home well into the twentieth century and it eventually became part of the Nova Scotia Museum system.
The location of the home, in the interior of Nova Scotia, represented Ramsay’s desire to have the disbanded soldiers start new communities in the hinterland of Nova Scotia. In these locations he believed they could start agrarian communities and function as unofficial military outposts to improve the developing provinces military strength in the interior; strength that could be drawn from the veteran soldiers in case of an emergency.
The architecture of the Rosebank Cottage is valued as it has undergone few changes since its construction and provides an excellent view into domestic life in rural Nova Scotia which lead to its acquisition by the Nova Scotia Museum in 1970.
The home’s English Vernacular structure, with form following function, has evolved through several small additions made to the home over its history; however, the most prominent style within its blend of architecture is Cape Cod. The home boasts a large central chimney at the peak of the steeply pitched gabled roof that channels smoke from numerous fireplaces in the home, including the large kitchen hearth and bake oven still which are used today.
The simple decoration of the home is also common to the Cape Cod style. The eaves on the ridgeline have just enough overhang to cover the walls and feature simple mouldings. This type of simple ornamentation is present in all the windows, expressed in the small understated window hoods. The windows located on the front and rear elevations of the home form part of a five bay façade with paired six-over-six windows flanking a central door with a three pane transom window and a simplified cap that matches the window hoods.
Some embellishments of the Cape Cod style include the presence of the plain corner boards that the wooden shingles butt against and the larger overhang present on the gabled ends of the home, which includes plain bargeboard, rake moulding and frieze.
The additions to the home contributing to its English Vernacular style include a small shed roof supported by square beams covering the main entrance and a small ground level deck on the front elevation, facing away from the highway. The only major change to the home’s exterior was completed in 1917 when a summer kitchen/porch area was added to the home. The addition features six-over-six windows and corner boards and window hoods that have been designed to match the rest of the home. A small partially hipped roof supported by square beams provides shelter to the door on the front elevation (facing away from the highway), providing exterior access to the porch.
Source: Municipality of the District of Chester Heritage Property Files.
The character-defining elements of Rosebank Cottage that relate to its English Vernacular architecture include:
- shed roof extension supported by square beams over main door and a small ground level deck on front elevation;
- ell comprised of summer kitchen/porch area with small partially hipped roof covering exterior door on front elevation;
- asymmetrical design of side elevation facing adjacent field featuring a small two-over-two window in peak, paired six-over-six windows on second storey and three bay façade of asymmetrically placed six-over-six windows on first storey;
- asymmetrical design of side elevation facing adjacent barn with small two-over-two window in peak of the gable, paired six-over-six windows on second storey level and two bay façade of asymmetrical placed six-over-six windows on first storey;
- moderate overhang present on gabled ends of home, including plain bargeboard, rake moulding and frieze.
The character-defining elements of Rosebank Cottage that relate to its Cape Cod styling include:
- wooden shingle cladding;
- field stone foundation and exterior access to the basement/crawl space of foundation;
- central chimney located at peak of steeply pitched roof that serves multiple fireplaces;
- small overhang on ridgeline elevation that terminates with simple moulding;
- symmetrical five bay façade of front and rear elevations, featuring paired six-over-six windows flanking a central door with three pane transom window with understated hoods and caps respectively;
- plain design of corner boards.
The character-defining elements of Rosebank Cottage that relate to its interior and original use include:
- truncated ceilings on second storey level that separate living space and storage space;
- large operational hearth and bake oven;
- replica wood stove in summer kitchen made locally at Lunenburg Foundry;
- all original and historic hardware including door knobs and lock boxes;
- all original and historic flooring;
- all original and historic doors;
- all original and historic trim and mouldings.
Other character-defining elements of Rosebank Cottage include:
- location in the Ross Farm Museum complex;
- original location facing main highway;
- located near small orchard;
- wooden windows, doors and wood shingle roof;
- location close to Ross Barn;
- rear elevation facing Ross Lake;
- original two-and-one-half storey massing;
- continued use an educational centre and museum.
Location of Supporting Documentation
Municipal Heritage Property Files, Municipality of the District of Chester, 151 King St, Chester, NS, B0J 1J0
Cross-Reference to Collection
The contents of the house include several pieces that are original to the Ross family and are part of the Nova Scotia Museum collection. Also there are several diaries, kept by William Ross, son of Capt. Ross, while living at Rosebank Cottage, included in the provincial collection.