Description of Historic Place
The Alexander Graham Bell Museum, located at the edge of the village of Baddeck, is a modern, double, A-framed, structure with rustic overtones. Based on a tetrahedral geometric grid, the building features a prominent triangular entrance vestibule and strong asymmetrical massing. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Alexander Graham Bell Museum is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Alexander Graham Bell Museum, built specifically to hold Alexander Graham Bell artifacts, is associated with the commemoration of a nationally significant aspect of Canadian history. It has also contributed to the growth of a seasonal tourist industry in the area.
The Alexander Graham Bell Museum is a very good example of a modern A-frame structure with rustic overtones as evidenced in its high quality design, craftsmanship and use of natural materials. The building also exhibits a very good functional plan by virtue of its large column-free interior space that has successfully accommodated changes in function. It is an important work of Osborne Howard Leicester who was chief architect of the Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources.
The Alexander Graham Bell Museum reinforces the character of its park-like setting. And, serving as a gateway to the community of Baddeck from the north, it is a familiar building within the region.
Sources: Andrew Waldron, Alexander Graham Bell Museum, Baddeck, Nova Scotia, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 97-095; Alexander Graham Bell Museum, National Historic Site, Baddeck, Nova Scotia, Heritage Character Statement, 97-095.
The following character-defining elements of the Alexander Graham Bell Museum should be respected.
Its modern design with rustic overtones, good functional design and good craftsmanship,
-the complex footprint of the structure reflected by the tetrahedral geometric grid
underlying the plan;
-the high A-frame massing and prominent triangular entrance vestibule with a tipped canopy roof at the principal elevation, and the low-scale and horizontal form of the section of the building built into the hillside;
-the facades executed in random-coursed, rock-faced sandstone, complemented by
exposed redwood trim and roof sheathing, as well as the uniformly textured and subtly coloured slate cladding of the A-frame roof, all of which contribute a rustic touch to the modern building;
-the simple details, characteristic of modern design, such as the use flooring which continues from the interior to the exterior;
-the triangular multi-pane sash windows and fine scale of the mullions which are intended to evoke the lightweight space frame structure of Bell’s kite designs;
-the large open volume of space and multi-level floor area under the A-frame structure; and,
-the surviving interior finishes which reflect the interest in integrating different materials
and textures, characteristic of 1950s modernism.
The manner in which the Alexander Graham Bell Museum reinforces the character of its park-like setting and is a familiar landmark in the local area, as evidenced by:
-the building’s modern design and rustic overtones which harmonize with the
modern landscaped park setting;
-the high visibility and familiarity of the structure by virtue of its location at the northern
gateway to the village; and,
-the well-known historical association, national significance and symbolic importance of
the building which makes it a significant landmark to the community of Baddeck and a
destination for visitors to the area.