Description of Historic Place
The Arthur Homer House is a two-and-a-half storey, home located directly on the main highway in Barrington Head, Nova Scotia. The house is unique in the community as its first storey is built of cut granite and the second storey and side wing is wooden. Both the house and the land are included in the municipal designation of July 4, 1984.
The Arthur Homer House is valued for its historical associations with the Sargent and Homer families and their contributions to the development of Barrington; for its age; and for its unique and unaltered appearance.
In 1783 John Sargent came to Nova Scotia as a Loyalist fleeing the American Revolution. He was quickly appointed customs officer for Shelburne and justice of the peace by Governor John Parr. It is thought that Sargent arrived in Nova Scotia with considerable assets and was eager to establish a West Indian trading business. He chose a tract of land at Barrington that bordered on a protected harbour that was proven a good shipping location by the considerable number of fishermen from Massachusetts who had already settled there. In 1792 Sargent established the first grist mill in the township, on the Barrington River. He became a significant land owner in the area. In 1793 he was elected to represent Barrington in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly and held the position until 1818.
Sargent built his granite and timber-framed house circa 1811 next to his grist mill, with two front entrances, one to accommodate his family and one for his growing mercantile business. Upon Sargent’s death in 1824, his family continued live in the house and operate the grist mill. In 1834 it was purchased by Asa Doane Crowell who passed it to his son, George Crowell, both well known local merchants.
The house was then purchased by Arthur Homer, whose daughter Annie Wilson and future owner of the house, operated the Barrington Registry of Deeds and Probate Office from the eastern half of the main house. At one time the second storey was thought to have served as a school, and the house was even used for township and community meetings when the local and historic Meeting House was unavailable. Throughout its history, the Arthur Homer House has served the residents of Barrington in a variety of means.
This two-and-a-half storey house has a somewhat unique appearance. It was built into a hillside with the grade rising a full storey from front to back. The first floor was built of cut granite with wood framed second storey. While granite is common for foundations, quoins, steps and sills, it is unusual to see a full ground storey constructed this way with a second timber-framed storey. This house is thought to be the oldest in Barrington and has retained numerous original and historic elements that reflect its multiple uses. It is unclear when the long wooden west wing was added; however it is known that a similar east wing existed at one time.
When Sargent constructed the house, it was originally at the water’s edge where Sargent had a wharf and another store building. However in the late nineteenth century a railway causeway was constructed over the water creating a small bay in front of the house.
Source: Municipality of the District of Barrington heritage registration files, Arthur Homer House file.
Character-defining elements of The Arthur Homer House relate to its original and historic elements and include:
- two-and-a-half storeys with side wing;
- original location facing the ocean;
- first storey built of cut granite;
- timber framed upper storeys;
- wooden shingles on upper storeys;
- wooden clapboard on side wing;
- gable roof;
- two front entrances side-by-side on first storey;
- simple cornerboards, eave returns and cornice detailing;
- small hipped roof entrance supported by decorative brackets;
- deep splay in main entrance;
- second storey rear entrance level with ground;
- covered porch on rear elevation running width of house;
- six-over-six wooden windows in side elevations;
- five symmetrical windows in side wing;
- two-over-two windows in section used as a store;
- east side of main floor clad partially in wooden shingles;
- all interior elements including six panel doors, locks, balustrade and panels beneath window casings, dado and beaded mouldings, rafters joined with pegs, birch bark flashing, and some original window glass;
- elements related to upper storey use as a school including shelving and black painted walls used as blackboards.