Description of Historic Place
The Coastal Lighthouse is a simple, well-proportioned and modestly detailed two-storey, square-tapered tower. The tower features a pedimented and protruding vestibule, corner boards, a prominent simply detailed cornice that supports a metal railing at the gallery level, and an octagonal metal lantern glazed on seven sides. The Coastal Lighthouse is located in close proximity to the shoreline and in the heart of the combined community of Neils Harbour and New Haven, near the eastern edge of Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Canada. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Coastal Lighthouse is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Coastal Lighthouse is associated with the national theme of aides to navigation. The light at Neils Harbour is a seasonal, coastal light marking the entrance to the harbour at Neils Harbour, a village that has been closely involved in the Atlantic fishery. The Coastal Lighthouse supports the local fish processing plant, Victoria Co-op. Fisheries Limited, the only fish-processing facility listed among the dozen small coastal fishing villages within the immediate area and serving the region. Built in response to the growth of the community at the end of the initial establishment phase in the late 1800s, the Coastal Lighthouse has contributed to local prosperity and is still operational. The Coastal Lighthouse is also associated with Angus Buchanan, the first light keeper and a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Victoria County.
The Coastal Lighthouse is good example of a square-tapered light tower with a rectangular or straight cornice. Characterized by good proportions and simple details, the design of the Coastal Lighthouse is consistent with the standard lighthouse plan developed by the Department of Marine and features a simple interior layout. A square-tapered tower with a wide base and low center of gravity, the lighthouse is a sturdy, economical structure able to withstand strong winds and waves and is constructed of solid, durable, good quality craftsmanship and materials.
The Coastal Lighthouse reinforces the character of the twin coastal villages of Neils Harbour and New Haven, which are situated at the edge of a shallow harbour in a marine setting. Located in the heart of the twin villages, the lighthouse is surrounded by a fairly substantial built environment consisting of a cluster of wood frame, one- and two-storey commercial and residential vernacular buildings. The Coastal Lighthouse is a visual landmark in that it is an integral part of the coastal community of Neils Harbour and can be seen from the coast as well as from inland, and is also a symbolic landmark in that it serves a regional area and is a tourist attraction.
Sources: Janet Collins, Coastal Lighthouse, Neils Harbour, Victoria County, Nova Scotia. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 01-081; Coastal Lighthouse, Neils Harbour, Victoria County, Nova Scotia. Heritage Character Statement 01-081.
The character-defining elements of the Coastal Lighthouse should be respected.
Its distinctive design, standard plan and its good quality materials and craftsmanship as manifested in:
- the well-proportioned composition which consists of a two-storey square-tapered tower with a prominent rectangular or straight cornice;
- the simple detailing including the pedimented and protruding vestibule, corner boards, and metal railing at the gallery level;
- the well-designed octagonal metal lantern which is glazed on seven sides;
- the wide, square base which creates a spacious and adaptable interior on the ground floor level;
- the simple interior layout which is well suited to its function as a lighthouse;
- the sturdy, solid construction and durable materials including the wood frame, stone foundation and clapboard siding.
The manner in which the Coastal Lighthouse reinforces the character of a coastal town at the edge of a shallow harbour in a marine setting as evidenced in:
- its visual prominence from the coast and from inland owing to its location in the heart of the twin villages of Neils Harbour and New Haven, as well as its scale, massing, and materials which are in keeping with the surrounding built environment;
- its symbolic value to the community as a lighthouse that continues to serve the regional area and is also a tourist attraction.